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TION        67 


VII.    DEGENERACY  IN  THE  MAKING       ....  105 


IX.    How  MANY  OUGHT  To  BE  STERILIZED?     .  143 

X.    WHAT  HAPPENED  TO  CARRIE  BUCK  .      .     .  157 




XIV.  THE  WRONG  SIDE  OF  THE  LEDGER     .     .     .  233 



XVIII.    HOLDING  THE  BEAR  BY  THE  TAIL  .                 .  281 






Choose  good  grandparents. 

—Dr.  Oliver  Wendell  Holmes 

Three  generations  of  imbeciles  are  enough. 

— Justice  Oliver  Wendell  Holmes 






Since  the  year  1934  opened  there  has  been  a  start- 
ling increase  in  the  attention  given  to  the  subject 
of  sterilization,  an  increase  which  among  Ameri- 
can newspaper-readers  is  probably  due  largely  to 
the  news  from  Germany  that  Hitler  has  undertaken 
to  have  some  four  hundred  thousand  Germans 
sterilized — nearly  a  hundredth  part  of  the  popula- 
tion. Whether  this  order  is  or  is  not  directed  ex- 
clusively at  the  Jews,  it  is  so  grave  a  decision  as  to 
justify  fully  the  recent  discussion  of  it  among  thou- 
sands of  persons  in  our  own  country  who  may 
never  before  have  taken  any  real  interest  in  the 

Many  far-sighted  men  and  women  in  both  Eng- 
land and  America,  however,  have  long  been  work- 
ing earnestly  toward  something  very  like  what 
Hitler  has  now  made  compulsory.  Ridiculed,  even 
vilified,  they  have  fought  courageously  and  stead- 
ily for  the  legalization  of  what  they  consider  a 
constructive  agency  in  the  betterment  of  the  race. 



And  now  they  stand  watching  their  fellow-coun- 
trymen awaken  suddenly  to  a  keen  and  inquiring 
interest  in  sterilization,  and  ready  to  explain  what 
it  is,  why  it  is  needed,  and  how  it  should  be 
guarded.  The  average  American,  to  whom  it  has 
been  only  a  strange  or  sensational  term,  now  wants 
to  know  just  how  it  may  be  counted  on  to  work  in 
the  elimination  of  undesirable  elements  in  society, 
along  with  the  burden  so  long  imposed  on  us  by 
their  multiplication  and  their  helplessness.  Steri- 
lization has  something  to  do  with  criminals  and 
feeble-minded — so  much  the  man-in-the-street 
knows ;  it  has  something  to  do  with  the  question  of 
birth-control,  some  connection  with  inheritable 
diseases.  Such  ideas  are  to  be  gathered  from  the 
reading  of  newspapers  and  popular  magazines. 
But  beyond  these  he  has  little  information;  and 
he  is  going  to  need  a  good  deal  more  if  the  issue 
in  our  own  country  is  to  be  considered  judiciously 
and  legislated  on  with  any  degree  of  effectiveness. 
Holding  no  brief  for  Herr  Hitler,  approving  his 
action  only  because  it  has  served  to  bring  dramati- 
cally to  public  attention  a  movement  that  I  have 
long  been  interested  in,  I  hope  in  this  book  to 
clarify  the  subject  of  sterilization  in  all  its  most 
important  aspects;  to  present  the  case  in  non- 
technical language  as  far  as  possible,  and  to  help 



my  readers  toward  a  better  understanding  of  the 
purposes  underlying  the  sterilization  movement. 

My  own  enthusiasm  has  been  developed  through 
my  work,  during  several  years,  as  Executive  Sec- 
retary of  the  American  Eugenics  Society,  an  or- 
ganization that  acts  as  a  clearing-house  for  all  ideas 
relating  to  racial  improvement,  including  steriliza- 
tion, and  as  an  active  agent  in  the  enactment  of 
new  laws  as  well  as  in  the  enforcement  of  old.  In 
the  course  of  considerable  study  of  the  problem  of 
sterilization  and  related  questions  in  genetics,  I 
have  gathered  a  good  many  experiences  and  ob- 
servations that  support  my  whole-hearted  enthusi- 
asm for  the  movement,  and  some  of  these  will 
appear  in  the  pages  to  follow.  I  include  them 
because  they  prove  that  sterilization  is  no  mere 
academic  question — it  has  an  immediate  and  vital 
bearing  on  human  life :  on  our  personal  happiness, 
on  the  welfare  of  our  families,  on  the  individual 
and  the  community  pocket-book,  on  the  quality  of 
our  race  in  the  long  run. 

Sterilization  is  at  present,  of  course,  a  contro- 
versial issue.  Not  every  one  agrees  with  Mr.  Jus- 
tice Holmes  that  "it  is  better  for  all  the  world  if 
Society  can  prevent  those  who  are  manifestly  unfit 
from  continuing  their  kind."  How  bitter  the  op- 
position is,  particularly  in  some  religious  quarters, 



will  appear  in  subsequent  chapters.  But  dissent 
comes  not  only  from  these  quarters;  it  emanates 
too  often  from  persons  who  have  no  religious  scru- 
ples in  eugenic  matters  but  who  are  ill-informed, 
or  prejudiced,  or  overhasty  in  taking  their  stand 
on  half-baked  notions.  And  finally  there  are  the 
thousands  who  honestly  want  to  think  straight  on 
this  critical  question  but  who  have  never  had  the 
facts  presented  to  them  clearly  and  fully. 

To  the  pocket-book  aspect  of  our  situation  to- 
day, too,  we  owe  much  of  the  interest  expressed  in 
sterilization.  Taxes  and  charitable  funds  in  huge 
amounts  annually  go  to  support  institutions 
crowded  with  the  degenerate,  the  unfit,  the  less  de- 
sirable members  of  society ;  and  every  citizen  feels 
the  pinch.  Not  that  the  whole  of  our  burden  of 
relief  is  due  to  degeneracy;  much  of  it  has  been 
created  by  the  special  economic  conditions  of  the 
past  few  years.  Competent  and  useful  citizens  by 
the  million  have  been  thrown  on  charity.  But 
when  these  are  once  more  employed  and  self-sup- 
porting, there  will  still  remain  a  heavy  and  in- 
creasing burden  of  taxes  and  charity  which  can  be 
reduced  for  us  and  for  our  children  after  us  only 
if  we  take  such  steps  toward  racial  betterment  as 
are  represented  notably  by  sterilization.  Until  we 
take  that  step,  the  feeble-minded  person,  the  habit- 



ual  sexual  criminal,  and  the  men  and  women  af- 
flicted by  inheritable  disease  will  all  continue  to 
propagate  their  kind;  women  who  cannot  or  ought 
not  to  bear  any  more  children  will  go  on  bearing; 
our  institutions  will  get  more  and  more  crowded 
and  call  on  our  pocket-books  more  and  more  often. 
And  meanwhile,  what  of  the  quality  of  the  race? 

The  question  is  tied  closely  with  the  matter  of 
sterilization,  more  closely  than  is  commonly  real- 
ized. Many  a  person  who  fully  appreciates  the 
desirability  of  the  eugenic  movement  in  general  is 
likely  to  shy  off  at  the  mention  of  sterilization,  be- 
cause the  word  arouses  emotional  reactions.  If  he 
is  naturally  kind-hearted,  and  has  an  inadequate 
comprehension  of  the  subject,  he  tends  at  once  to 
put  himself  in  the  position  of  the  other  fellow  and 
ask  himself  how  he  would  like  being  the  object  of 
this  form  of  social  discipline.  But  such  a  reaction 
is  often  grossly  imaginary,  conjuring  up  fears  and 
objections  that  are  groundless.  It  is  hardly  more 
than  a  kind  of  protective  reaction  that  doubtless 
has  some  connection  with  individual  and  race  sur- 
vival, and  it  can  and  often  does  push  us  toward 
rationalizations  and  unsound  decisions.  This  fact 
is  well  attested  in  the  personal  experience  of  any- 
body who  has  had  much  to  do  with  social  planning 
or  social  work  in  general,  for  it  is  the  human  trait 


that  is  utilized  as  the  basis  of  appeals  for  charity. 
Any  organization  seeking  help  for  a  group  of  un- 
fortunates knows  how  effectively  it  can  plead  if  it 
makes  you  and  me  feel  that  we  are  somehow  iden- 
tified with  those  for  whom  the  money  is  needed. 
And  so  it  is  with  many  of  us  when  first  we  learn 
of  the  sterilization  movement;  our  instantaneous 
reaction  is,  "But  suppose  I  were  ever  to  be  the 
victim  of  the  sterilization  law!" — a  reaction  which 
in  itself  betrays  less  than  adequate  understanding 
of  the  subject,  since  (as  I  shall  show  later)  a  sub- 
stantial number  of  the  very  men  and  women  who 
need  sterilization  either  submit  to  it  quite  will- 
ingly or  indeed  welcome  it. 

No — our  instinctive  revolt  is  negligible,  both  in 
itself  and  in  its  relation  to  the  practical  problem. 
If  it  develops  into  active  opposition,  or — as  often 
happens — into  a  tendency  to  abuse  the  supporters 
of  sterilization,  it  can  be  successfully  met  only  by 
the  wider  spread  of  enlightened  understanding. 
The  case  for  sterilization  rests  on  sound  principles, 
it  has  the  highest  possible  humanitarian  aims  and 
the  support  of  countless  scientific  authorities,  and 
it  is  growing  more  vitally  important  in  our  lives 
every  day.  No  one  can  deny  that  our  present  trend 
is  toward  a  planned  society — planned  biologically 
as  well  as  economically;  and  no  planned  social  or- 



der  is  attainable  without  careful  consideration  of 
the  kind  of  people  we  want  to 'have  forming  the 
race  of  the  future.  Inevitably  the  question  arises, 
How  are  we  to  achieve  the  desired  effect?  And 
the  answer  is:  Cut  off  the  useless  classes  by  pre- 
venting their  reproduction,  and  increase  the  better 
— that  is,  the  useful  and  self-sustaining,  not  neces- 
sarily the  more  brilliant.  For  the  sake  of  our 
children,  if  not  for  our  own  sake,  we  must  reduce 
the  terrific  burden  of  degeneracy  that  we  have 
loaded  on  our  shoulders  through  our  policy  in  the 
past.  I  believe  that  sterilization  is  but  a  part  of 
the  general  discipline  that  we  call  social  planning, 
and  it  is  from  this  point  of  view  that  I  shall  dis- 
cuss it. 

This  is  to  be  no  "neutral"  book — it  is  frankly 
advocacy  of  a  worthy  cause  that  I  have  for 
many  years  studied  in  all  its  aspects.  I  have 
even  debated  it  on  a  number  of  occasions,  some- 
times taking  the  side  against  sterilization.  But 
after  reading  all  that  I  could  find  on  the  subject 
and  weighing  the  evidence  carefully,  I  am  now 
wholeheartedly  in  favor  of  it  under  certain  strictly 
defined  conditions,  and  it  would  be  hypocritical  to 
assume  an  attitude  of  neutrality.  But  by  ad- 
vocacy I  mean  educational  advocacy  of  the  most 
disinterested  sort.  In  two  chapters  I  have  brought 


forward  all  the  objections  that  I  have  ever  heard 
urged  against  sterilization,  answering  these  as  hon- 
estly as  I  can  and  granting  that  there  is  weight  in 
some  of  them.  But  the  facts  and  figures  presented 
throughout  the  book  will  prove,  I  believe,  that  the 
preponderant  weight  in  the  end  will  be  found  on 
the  side  of  those  who  are  urging  sterilization.  My 
position  is  not  that  of  the  scientist  of  earlier  days, 
who  was  supposed  only  to  collect  facts  and  was 
not  expected  to  publish  the  views  he  had  derived 
from  them  except  through  learned  scientific  mono- 
graphs that  could  hardly  reach  the  people.  In 
such  a  matter  as  sterilization  it  is  the  people  who 
must  be  reached ;  they  can  form  their  own  beliefs 
and  direct  legislation  wisely  only  on  the  basis  of  the 
discoveries  and  the  opinions  of  the  scientist. 





From  my  own  observation  I  can  testify  that  a 
good  deal  of  the  opposition  to  sterilization  arises 
from  ignorance  of  what  it  really  consists  in.  Ster- 
ilization is  not  castration.  It  does  not  completely 
destroy  sexual  activity,  nor  does  it  interfere  with 
those  processes,  psychical  and  emotional,  which  are 
dependent  on  normal  sex  functions.  It  differs 
from  castration  in  being  partial,  its  sole  effect  being 
to  prevent  procreation.  The  person  who  is  steri- 
lized in  the  ways  that  I  shall  describe  as  satisfactory 
continues  to  enjoy  his  or  her  normal  sexual  activity 
but  is  unable  to  produce  children.  I  stress  this  dis- 
tinction because  it  is  of  the  utmost  importance  and 
because  I  have  encountered  so  many  people  who 
have  the  wrong  idea. 

In  order  to  understand  the  working  of  the  vari- 
ous recommended  procedures  for  sterilizing,  it 
will  be  useful  to  review  briefly  the  essential  points 
in  the  anatomy  and  physiology  of  the  sex  organs. 
To  take  the  female  organs  first :  the  most  important 



are  the  ovaries,  ductless  glands  whose  functions  are 
closely  linked  with  the  entire  gland  system.  Each 
of  the  two  ovaries  contains  innumerable  micro- 
scopic cells  which  develop  into  ova.  During  every 
cycle  of  28  days  there  is  a  period  of  growth  for 
some  of  these  cells  and  of  death  for  others;  this 
period  of  growth  and  death  being  closely  connected 
with  the  female  sexual  feelings.  Many  studies 
have  been  made  on  the  sexual  cycle  in  women,  one 
of  the  most  important  being  described  in  a  mono- 
graph by  Dr.  George  N.  Papanicolaou  of  Cornell 
University,  which  with  other  work  on  correlated 
facts  about  reproduction  shows  that  the  cycle  runs 
through  the  following  four  stages : 

First  Period.  There  is  a  general 
cleansing  process ;  the  lining  of  the  uterus 
breaks  down,  is  sloughed  off,  and  is  re- 
placed by  a  new  lining.  Deep  within  the 
ovaries  (lying  on  each  side  of  the  uterus) 
cells  are  beginning  to  grow  toward  the 
surface.  During  this  period  there  is  a 
diminution  in  passion  on  the  part  of  most 

Second  Period.    This  is  known  as  the 
copulative  period.    Ovarian  cells  which 


will  eventually  become  ova  (eggs)  are 
growing  rapidly,  each  within  a  sac  called 
a  follicle.  This  sac  contains  also  a  fluid 
known  as  the  follicular  hormone,  which 
is  absorbed  into  the  blood  and  for  good 
reasons  is  believed  to  be  the  chemical 
cause  of  the  desire  for  copulation.  The 
cells  and  their  surrounding  follicles  grow 
larger,  until  presently  one  of  the  follicles 
bursts.  When  this  has  occurred,  it  marks 
the  virtual  end  of  the  copulative  period. 

Third  Period.  The  post-copulative. 
As  soon  as  one  follicle  has  burst,  its  con- 
tents are  liberated ;  a  growth  then  starts  in 
the  place  where  that  follicle  was,  and 
similar  growths  start  simultaneously  in 
the  follicles  that  were  not  ruptured.  In 
each  case  the  growth  not  only  fills  the 
follicle  but  increases  to  very  large  pro- 
portions— so  large  indeed  that,  if  we  con- 
sider the  ovary  to  be  about  three-quarters 
of  an  inch  in  diameter,  the  growth  itself 
may  reach  a  quarter  of  an  inch  in  diam- 
eter, or  more.  The  growth  is  called  the 
corpus  luteum  or  yellow  body,  and  it  de- 
velops faster  than  any  other  body  of  cells. 



This  process  of  development  is  over  in  a 
few  days.  Furthermore,  the  corpus  lu- 
teum  secretes  a  hormone  which — working 
probably  with  other  hormones — lessens 
the  desire  for  copulation,  so  that  for  a  few 
days  there  is  a  marked  let-down. 

Fourth  Period.  The  pre-menstrual, 
during  which  the  ovaries  are  in  a  more  or 
less  quiescent  state.  At  this  time  there  is 
quite  generally  in  women  a  desire  for 
copulation,  such  as  is  not  known  in  the 
lower  animals  during  the  corresponding 

So  much  for  the  28-day  cycle.  Now  let  us  see 
what  happens  in  the  rest  of  the  reproductive  tract. 
Alongside  the  ovaries  are  the  fimbrae,  bodies  that 
are  something  like  sponges,  attached  to  the  upper 
ends  of  the  Fallopian  tubes.  These  are  the  tubes 
connecting  ovaries  and  uterus,  their  purpose  being 
to  carry  the  ovum  to  the  uterus,  where  (if  ferti- 
lized) it  may  develop  into  the  embryo.  Now,  dur- 
ing copulation  (sexual  intercourse)  the  male's 
semen  is  moved  upward  in  the  Fallopian  tubes 
until  it  comes  to  the  fimbrae,  where  it  awaits  the 
appearance  of  the  ova.  As  we  reach  this  fact  we 



are  again  at  the  point  where  we  may  discuss 

How  is  sterilization  of  the  female  to  be  effected 
with  the  desired  good  results  and  with  no  bad  ones? 
Obviously,  it  must  not  be  done  through  the  removal 
of  the  ovaries,  since  the  sexual  rhythm  and  perhaps 
even  the  whole  sexual  life  itself  would  thereby  be 
upset,  possibly  causing  still  other  physiological 
disturbances.  What,  then,  is  best?  The  question 
is  being  answered  at  present  in  several  ways. 

Sal  ping  ectomy.  The  operation  most  often  per- 
formed to-day  for  sterilizing  women  is  known  as 
salpingectomy,  a  simple  and  safe  surgical  method 
of  rendering  the  Fallopian  tubes  impassable  to  the 
male  sperm  in  its  movement  toward  the  fimbrae. 
Once  these  tubes  have  been  rendered  impassable  by 
means  of  this  operation,  which,  of  course,  can  only 
be  performed  by  a  skilled  surgeon,  fertilization 
cannot  take  place,  the  unfertilized  eggs  being  ab- 
sorbed in  the  same  way  in  which  the  other  thou- 
sands of  eggs  within  the  ovaries  are  absorbed. 
When  so  performed  the  records  of  this  operation 
prove  that  it  is  not  only  simple,  but  not  attended 
with  any  particular  danger. 

This  has  now  replaced  an  older  and  less  efficient 
operation  in  which  natural  growth  over  a  period 



of  time  in  a  number  of  cases  (18%)  rendered  the 
patient  again  fertile. 

Salpingectomy  has  been  performed  thousands 
of  times,  without  one  recorded  case  of  serious  com- 
plication or  of  death.  Whether  salpingectomy 
can  be  undone  later — that  is,  whether  by  further 
surgery  fertility  may  be  restored — is  still  question- 
able. So  far  as  I  can  learn  this  operation  has  never 
been  attempted,  though  many  argue  that  it  is  prac- 

Searing.  Still  another  operation  similar  in 
effect  has  been  devised  by  Dr.  Robert  L.  Dickinson 
of  New  York.  He  reasons  that  it  is  better,  when 
practicable,  to  effect  the  sterilization  without  mak- 
ing an  incision,  and  he  suggests  searing  within. 
This  operation  also  is  a  simple  matter  when  in  the 
hands  of  a  skilled  surgeon,  and  leaves  the  patient 
without  any  permanent  bad  after  effects  or  any 
appreciable  amount  of  surgical  shock.  The  rela- 
tive value  of  searing  as  opposed  to  the  use  of  the 
knife  is  a  surgical  one  and  the  opinions  of  surgeons 
vary  upon  this  point.  At  any  rate  both  methods  are 
effective  in  the  sterilization  of  women.  Both  of 
these  operations  are  better  than  the  use  of  the  X-ray 
which  will  next  be  mentioned.  Searing,  too,  in  the 
belief  of  some  authorities,  may  be  undone  at  a  later 
date  if  there  is  reason  for  the  restoration  of  the 



fertilizing  process ;  though  like  the  other  this  point 
is  questionable. 

The  signal  advantage  of  either  salpingectomy  or 
searing  is  that  the  operation  not  only  prevents  con- 
ception but  also  does  not  interfere  in  any  way  with 
the  normal  sexual  activity  of  the  woman.  This  is 
extremely  important  to  bear  in  mind  in  connection 
with  the  problem  of  sterilization. 

X-ray.  A  third  method  must  be  described,  if 
only  by  way  of  warning.  In  private  practice  the 
X-ray  has  been  used,  and  more  often  than  is  war- 
ranted by  the  results.  Its  use  is  now  decreasing, 
and  some  of  the  reasons  for  this  may  be  cited.  Al- 
though radium  and  the  X-ray  have  been  used  with 
success  in  many  sterilizations,  these  two  methods 
have  often  produced  either  failure  or  at  best 
unsatisfactory  results.  One  common  effect  of 
treatment  by  radium  or  the  X-ray  is  to  stop  men- 
struation— which  virtually  constitutes  castration. 
The  function  of  the  ovaries  is  destroyed,  and  the 
hormones  are  no  longer  produced. 

This  is  not  the  worst  result,  however ;  there  are 
two  other  considerations  of  the  utmost  importance. 
The  first  relates  to  the  effects  of  radium  or  the 
X-ray  when  used  to  bring  about  temporary  steril- 
ity. This  is  sometimes  desirable  or  necessary,  and 
the  treatment  is  not  continued  long  enough  to  de- 



stroy  the  ovarian  function ;  normal  menstruation  is 
not  interfered  with,  though  conception  cannot  take 
place.  When,  in  time,  the  effects  pass  off  and  the 
woman  regains  her  fertility,  there  is  likely  to  be 
trouble ;  for  among  the  children  conceived  shortly 
after  the  treatments,  it  has  been  found  that  a  large 
proportion  were  microcephalic  idiots — i.e.,  with 
the  tops  of  their  heads  abnormally  small.  This 
type  of  child  seldom  has  intelligence  and  is  usually 
short-lived.  If  it  survives  it  becomes  the  sort  of 
sad  "freak"  that  one  sees  in  side  shows.  If  the 
cause  of  such  monstrosities  lies  in  an  unexpected 
pregnancy  following  close  on  radium  or  X-ray 
treatment,  the  latter  is  certainly  wrong  as  a  method 
of  effecting  temporary  sterilization. 

The  second  consideration  is  the  influence  of  the 
X-ray  on  the  germ-plasm.  Experiments  on  lower 
forms  of  life  have  shown  that  mutations  (perma- 
nent changes)  of  the  germ-plasm  can  be  induced 
rather  simply  by  the  use  of  X-rays ;  and  the  changes 
observed  thus  far  have  always  been  downward  in 
the  evolutionary  scale.  A  corresponding  effect  on 
the  human  germ-plasm — permanently  altering  its 
basic  cells — would  imply  a  tremendously  impor- 
tant change  in  the  next  generation  and  all  future 

But  whatever  weight  we  may  or  may  not  give 



to  either  of  these  considerations,  it  is  certainly  too 
early  to  put  much  trust  in  radium  or  X-ray  sterili- 
zation ;  the  method  has  been  in  use  for  too  short  a 
time  to  produce  results  that  can  be  checked.  The 
safest  course  at  present  is  to  say:  "When  in  doubt, 

Male  sterilization  presents  a  far  simpler  prob- 
lem, as  will  be  evident  on  a  consideration  of  the 
anatomy  and  physiology  of  the  male  sexual  organs. 
Here,  as  in  the  female,  the  sex  glands  (gonads) 
constitute  the  most  important  part  of  the  mechan- 
ism. In  the  male  these  glands  are  the  testicles. 
They  are  nourished  by  a  large  blood  supply  and 
are  made  up  of  millions  of  tiny  tubes  called  tubules, 
each  of  which  is  lined  with  cells.  These  are  the 
germ  cells,  and  from  them  are  manufactured  the 
spermatozoa  (or  sperm),  which  correspond  to 
the  ova  in  the  female.  Every  cell  divides  several 
times,  each  time  working  toward  the  center  of  the 
tube,  until  eventually,  after  several  divisions,  they 
change  into  cells  that  are  able  to  move  about; 
under  the  microscope  at  this  stage  they  look  like 
polliwogs.  They  are  now  moved  along  the  tubules 
until  they  reach  the  epididymis,  a  much  larger 
tube  with  many  twists  and  turns  which  lies  just 
outside  the  testicle,  and  here  they  are  stored. 



These  spermatozoa  are  extremely  minute;  we 
should  have  to  put  hundreds  of  them  together  in 
order  to  make  a  spot  large  enough  to  see.  The 
head  of  each  spermatozoon  is  its  more  important 
part,  its  tail  (about  nine  times  as  long)  being  for 
the  purpose  of  locomotion. 

The  channel  by  which  the  spermatozoa  leave  the 
epididymis  is  what  must  interest  us  in  connection 
with  sterilization.  This  is  the  vas  deferens,  a  tiny, 
flat,  thread-like  tube  running  from  the  testicle,  en- 
tering the  abdomen  through  the  groin  along  with 
the  blood-vessels  and  the  nerves,  and  passing 
around  the  bladder.  There  it  meets  the  prostate 
gland,  and  at  that  point  two  vesicles  or  ducts  join 
with  it.  It  is  in  these  ducts  that  the  semen  is  stored 
— i.e.,  the  fluid  that  carries  the  sperm. 

When  sexual  emission  occurs,  the  seminal  ducts 
discharge  the  semen,  and  this  causes  a  suction  that 
draws  millions  of  the  tiny  sperm  up  the  vas  def- 
erens to  mix  with  the  semen.  Since  male  fertility 
depends  on  the  sperm,  it  is  evident  that  the  best 
way  to  sterilize  a  man  is  to  prevent  the  sperm  from 
reaching  the  semen;  and  this  can  be  done  by  a 
rapid  and  skilled  minor  operation  in  the  surgeon's 
office.  This  preventive  principle  was  the  basis  of 
Steinach's  operation,  so  much  discussed  a  decade 



ago.  Dr.  Steinach  decided  that  if  the  sperm  were 
not  allowed  to  leave  the  testicles  at  all,  the  energy 
thus  retained  would  put  new  life  into  an  old  man ; 
this  was  his  "rejuvenation"  process.  But  an  im- 
portant distinction  must  be  noted  between  Stein- 
ach's  operation  and  the  one  performed  for 
sterilization :  Steinach,  in  keeping  the  sperm  from 
passing,  obstructed  the  vas  in  both  directions — the 
sperm  not  only  could  not  pass  farther  along  the  vas 
deferens  but  also  could  not  issue  from  the  vas  at  all, 
remaining  instead  in  the  testicle.  This  set  up  a 
degenerative  process  in  the  testicle  that  made  it  in- 
capable of  producing  sperm — a  very  bad  result, 
according  to  Steinach's  critics.  The  vasectomy 
used  for  sterilization,  on  the  contrary,  redirects  the 
sperm  so  that  it  can  be  discharged  into  the  scrotum 
(the  sac  that  holds  the  testicles)  ;  thus  the  testicle 
continues  to  produce  sperm,  which  are  merely  ab- 
sorbed into  the  scrotum. 

This  matter  of  the  absorption  of  the  sperm  is 
responsible  for  some  of  the  objection  that  exists 
to  the  operation.  Many  persons  have  thought  that 
it  must  be  harmful;  they  urge  that  since  there  is 
no  special  mechanism  provided  for  taking  care  of 
it,  the  process  may  lead  to  disintegration  and  de- 
composition. But  the  fact  is  that  the  human  body 
is  capable  of  absorbing  harmlessly  much  larger 



objects  than  the  sperm  or  the  ova.  It  is  not  un- 
common, for  instance,  for  an  embryo  to  develop 
normally  during  several  months  and  then  gradu- 
ally become  absorbed  with  no  harmful  effects. 

Vasectomy  is  the  standard  operation  in  use  for 
sterilizing  men,  and  it  is  so  simple  as  to  require 
hardly  more  than  an  office  call  on  the  physician. 
It  can  be  done  in  a  few  minutes  and  there  is  prac- 
tically no  risk  of  complications  if  proper  sanitary 
precautions  are  observed.  The  operation  for  ap- 
pendicitis, (appendectomy),  in  an  average  case 
with  no  complications,  is  very  much  more  serious 
than  vasectomy  which  can,  perhaps,  be  better  com- 
pared, for  importance,  with  a  tonsil  operation. 
And  even  here  the  balance  favors  vasectomy  since 
there  is  no  risk  of  hemorrhage  or  risk  of  any  kind 
beyond  that  of  surgical  cleanliness.  It  is  as  simple 
as  that — and  no  complications  have  ever  been  re- 
ported as  supervening. 

Ether  is  not  necessary,  but  the  operation  need 
not  be  painful,  since  the  patient  can  have  either  gas 
or  a  local  anesthetic. 

The  question  has  often  been  raised,  by  those  who 
have  learned  of  this  operation,  whether  it  can  be 
corrected — undone — in  case  this  be  found  advisa- 
ble. The  point  is  as  yet  undetermined :  many  sur- 
geons are  confident  that  it  can  be  done  effectually, 


while  others  are  doubtful.  Such  a  correcting  op- 
eration is  a  far  more  delicate  procedure  than  the 
original  vasectomy,  though  it  is  not  dangerous ;  one 
side  only  would  have  to  be  reconnected,  since  the 
sperm  from  one  testicle  would  be  more  than 
enough  to  insure  fertility. 

Sterilization  through  the  entire  removal  of  the 
testicles,  as  a  therapeutic  measure,  need  not  be  con- 
sidered here,  being  a  medical  rather  than  a  eugenic 

It  can  hardly  be  urged,  evidently,  that  either  the 
male  operation  or  the  female  is  a  very  serious  mat- 
ter. A  woman  who  is  sterilized  spends  two  weeks 
in  bed  at  the  expense  of  the  community;  a  man 
may  be  put  to  bed  for  a  week,  though  actually  he 
is  able  to  go  about  his  work  again  almost  at  once 
if  the  bandaging  has  been  done  carefully.  In  both 
cases,  as  soon  as  the  incisions  are  healed  the  thing 
is  over.  Compare  these  after-effects  with  those  of 
another  public  health  measure,  vaccination.  Here, 
and  in  various  serum  treatments,  there  are  often 
serious  and  painful  after-effects,  which  among 
many  people  give  rise  to  doubts  and  even  to  active 
opposition;  yet  it  is  obviously  the  feeling  of  the 
law-making  majority  that  this  constitutes  a  risk 
that  must  be  taken  for  the  good  of  the  community 



— that  the  benefits  accruing  from  these  measures 
far  outweigh  the  occasional  and  exceptional  harm 
done.  And  we  must  add  to  vaccination  and  serum 
treatments  this  newer  health  measure,  sterilization, 
as  at  least  equal  to  them  in  potential  benefit  to  the 
race.  It  differs  from  them  in  tending  to  perma- 
nently eliminate  misery. 

A  very  important  consideration,  naturally,  is  the 
effect  of  either  operation  on  the  subsequent  sexual 
life  of  the  patient.  It  can  hardly  be  said  too  em- 
phatically that  normal  sexual  activity  continues 
unimpaired.  Desire  is  not  reduced,  and  the  sexual 
act  can  take  place  just  as  before ;  the  only  difference 
being  that  now  the  sterilized  person  cannot  create 
a  child. 

As  for  that  general  comfort,  happiness,  and  sense 
of  well-being  that  are  produced  by  normal  and 
unimpeded  sexual  functioning,  the  effect  of  the 
operation  will  be  discussed  in  Chapter  IV. 

The  sterilizing  process  is  already  at  work  natu- 
rally, has  indeed  always  been  at  work,  in  a  way  that 
nobody  wants  to  see  continued.  It  is  mentioned 
here  only  because  so  few  persons  realize  that  it  ex- 
ists. I  refer  to  the  sterility  brought  about  by  pros- 
titution. The  great  majority  of  prostitutes  are 
sterile  because  of  venereal  infection.  However 
much  we  may  approve  of  the  result  (that  they  can- 



not  produce  children),  we  must  realize  that  their 
venereal  disease  is  carried  to  many  innocent  per- 
sons, who  may  thus  be  rendered  sterile  against  their 
wills.  For  prostitutes  are  the  chief  spreaders  of 
syphilis  and  gonorrhea.  They  are,  moreover,  pre- 
dominantly of  low  mentality,  as  shown  in  Dr.  Tage 
Kemp's  study  of  Copenhagen  prostitutes.1  Half 
of  the  women  he  examined  had  the  intelligence  of 
morons  or  under.  Nearly  three-quarters  suffered 
from  active  venereal  disease.  Only  35  percent 
presented  no  psychic  abnormalities.  In  our  own 
country  we  may  read  similar  findings  from  Drs. 
Yoakum  and  Yerkes,  who  in  their  Army  Mental 
Tests  have  this  to  say  about  the  intelligence  of  pros- 
titutes in  the  United  States : 

In  several  hundred  cases  investigated 
by  the  psychologists,  53  percent  of  the 
women  were  ten  years  mental  age  or  less ; 
10  percent  were  so  feeble-minded  that 
they  should  have  been  placed  in  custodial 
institutions.  A  large  percentage  of  those 
who  tested  above  ten  mentally  showed 
marked  evidence  of  mental  instability 
and  in  some  cases  definite  mental  disease. 

1A  Study  of  the  Causes  of  Prostitution,  a  paper  presented 
before  the  International  Eugenics  Congress,  New  York,  1932. 



A  relatively  small  number  could  be  said 
to  be  mentally  normal.2 

If  Nature  is  working  the  sterilization  of  pros- 
titutes through  their  venereal  disease,  and  thus 
preventing  the  propagation  of  other  undesirables, 
she  is  in  a  sense  the  ally  of  those  who  seek  the  same 
end  through  artificial  sterilization ;  but  her  method 
is  hardly  to  be  encouraged,  if  its  means  is  venereal 

2  C.  S.  Yoakum  and  R.  M.  Yerkes,  Army  Mental  Tests, 
New  York,  1920,  p.  196. 






One  gratifying  feature  of  the  task  we  have  before 
us  is  the  wealth  of  available  information  already 
assembled  in  the  form  of  records.  Many  thou- 
sands of  men  and  women  have  been  sterilized  under 
the  laws  of  the  United  States,  and  thousands  of 
others  have  been  sterilized  privately.  The  opera- 
tion is  gaining  favor  among  many  classes  of  people 
and  on  several  different  grounds.  By  this  time, 
therefore,  there  are  enough  data  accessible  to  help 
us  to  determine,  provisionally  at  least,  the  answers 
to  two  important  questions:  Has  sterilization 
proved  effective?  What  do  the  sterilized  subjects 
themselves  think  about  it? 

During  several  years  before  1929,  Mr.  E.  S. 
Gosney  and  Dr.  Paul  Popenoe  of  Pasadena,  Cali- 
fornia, conducted  a  study  on  many  aspects  of 
sterilization,  a  study  based  in  part  on  questionnaires 
and  in  part  on  direct  interviews.  The  results  of 
this  study  are  found  in  their  Sterilization  for 



Human  Betterment*  and  in  a  series  of  eighteen 
papers.2  Two  of  these  papers  deal  with  the  effect 
of  sterilization  on  the  patient,  one  with  the  attitude 
of  the  patient  toward  the  operation,  and  another 
with  the  attitude  of  the  patient's  relatives.  The 
complete  results  constitute  one  of  our  richest  mines 
of  concrete  facts  and  figures  on  the  subject,  and  it 
is  from  the  Gosney-Popenoe  data  that  I  shall  draw 
much  of  the  evidence  in  this  book. 

The  answer,  in  California,  to  the  first  question 
above  is  contained  in  the  fact  that  of  the  2,500 
women  who  were  sterilized,  only  four  subsequently 
became  pregnant,  these  four  having  been  sterilized 
by  the  old  type  of  operation  referred  to  in  Chapter 
II ;  the  proportion  revealing  the  superior  effective- 
ness of  the  newer  type  of  operation. 

Equally  important,  however — perhaps  even 
more  important — is  the  reaction  of  the  patients. 
How  many  of  them  have  been  satisfied?  Do  they 
feel  remorse  over  no  longer  being  capable  of  hav- 
ing children?  Do  they  wish  that  they  could  have 
their  reproductive  powers  restored?  The  answers 
to  these  questions  will  appear  in  our  discussion  of 
the  conditions  found  among  the  various  classes 

1  Sterilization  for  Human  Betterment:  a  Summary  of  6000 
Operations  in  Calif  orniaf  1909-1929.    New  York,  1929. 

2  For  their  titles  see  Appendix  A. 



into  which  the  sterilized  may  be  grouped.  I  be- 
lieve that  we  may  take  the  answers  with  a  con- 
siderable degree  of  assurance  that  they  represent 
the  real  feelings  of  thousands  of  subjects,  for  I 
myself  have  not  only  examined  carefully  all  the 
public  records  that  I  could  find,  as  well  as  such 
studies  as  that  by  Gosney  and  Popenoe,  but  also 
have  interviewed  in  person  a  considerable  number 
of  people  who  have  been  sterilized ;  and  I  repeat 
that  our  experience  with  the  operation  is  suffi- 
ciently extensive  by  now  to  warrant  positive  asser- 
tion that  its  results  are  predominantly  beneficial. 

The  classification  offered  here  needs  a  pre- 
liminary definition  of  some  of  its  terms  if  misap- 
prehension is  to  be  avoided.  By  birth-control,  for 
example,  is  not  meant  abortion,  or  infanticide,  or 
any  of  the  other  things  that  are  often  wrongly  put 
forward  as  its  equivalents;  it  means  merely  the 
prevention  of  conception,  any  method  by  which  the 
male  sperm  is  prevented  from  reaching  the  female 
ovum  and  thus  starting  a  new  life.  When,  again, 
I  speak  of  "therapeutic  reasons"  for  sterilization  I 
am  referring  to  the  cases  in  which  some  existing 
pathological  condition  can  be  cured  or  arrested  or 
prevented  from  getting  worse  only  by  sterilization. 
Finally,  it  may  be  useful  to  clear  up  certain  general 
misconceptions  of  the  meaning  of  "eugenics."  Too 



many  people,  I  find,  confuse  this  with  genetics. 
Now  genetics  is  the  study  of  the  mechanics  of 
heredity;  it  will  be  discussed  in  the  chapter  on 
Mendelism.  Eugenics  is  quite  another  matter.  It 
has  nothing  to  do  with  sex  hygiene,  or  with  anti- 
vice  movements,  or  with  State-made  marriages,  or 
with  the  birth  of  babies  to  unmarried  mothers;  it 
is  not  a  plan  for  creating  a  race  of  supermen.  It 
has  been  called  all  these  things  by  persons  who  get 
their  ideas  from  news  channels  of  rather  less  than 
perfect  authenticity.  What  eugenics  really  is  has 
been  perfectly  defined  by  Francis  Galton,  who 
coined  the  term  and  who  was  one  of  the  greatest 
scientists  of  all  time : 

Eugenics  is  the  study  of  all  the  influ- 
ences under  social  control  which  may  im- 
prove or  impair  the  inborn  qualities  of 
future  generations  of  man  either  physi- 
cally or  mentally. 

We  live  in  an  age  of  social  control,  and  here — 
in  eugenics — lies  our  most  glorious  opportunity  of 
controlling  the  quality  of  our  children  and  our 
children's  children. 

The  thousands  of  persons  who  have  submitted  to 
the  sterilization  process  may  be  grouped  for  con- 



venience  of  discussion  into  five  classes,  having  been 

(1)  as  a  means  of  birth-control; 

(2)  as  a  therapeutic  measure; 

(3)  privately,    either    as    a    eugenic 
measure  or  for  the  protection  of  them- 
selves and  their  families; 

(4)  punitively,  as  criminals,  and 

(5)  under  the  protection  of  the  law, 
at  the  request  of  parents  for  social  and 
eugenic  reasons,  or  as  a  eugenic  measure 
by  the  state. 

( i )  As  a  means  of  birth-control.  No  figures  are 
available  for  the  sterilizations  performed  as  a 
means  of  birth-control,  since,  when  the  operation 
is  resorted  to  by  either  husband  or  wife  for  this 
reason,  it  is  done  privately  by  a  surgeon.  But  my 
own  inquiries  have  led  me  to  believe  that  it  is 
done  thousands  of  times  annually  in  this  country. 
One  California  doctor,  for  instance,  states  that  he 
has  sterilized  150  married  men  for  this  purpose 
during  his  years  of  private  practice.  For  certain 
reasons  I  am  personally  opposed  to  the  adoption  of 
sterilization  for  birth-control,  believing  that  in  the 
great  majority  of  cases  the  more  usual  contracep- 
tive methods  are  preferable. 



Leaving  aside  for  the  moment  all  cases  in  which 
the  prevention  of  conception  is  desired  because  the 
wife  ought  never  to  have  any  more  children — cases 
which  will  be  discussed  under  our  second  group — 
it  may  be  said  that  the  commonest  reason  given  by 
married  persons  in  the  first  group  runs  something 
like  this:  "We've  had  enough  children  and  we 
don't  want  any  more."  Among  my  own  acquaint- 
ances I  can  count  half  a  dozen  men,  all  of  a  high 
type,  who  have  had  the  operation  performed  when 
they  felt  that  their  families  were  as  large  as  they 
wanted  or  could  take  care  of.  One  of  these  has  six 
fine  children.  He  and  his  wife  are  both  young, 
but  they  know  that  their  days  of  wanting  babies 
are  over,  and  both  are  perfectly  satisfied  now  that 
the  husband  has  been  sterilized.  Indeed  I  should 
have  to  go  far  to  find  a  happier  couple.  None  the 
less,  I  believe  that  sterilization  is  not  necessarily 
called  for  in  such  conditions,  and  still  less  when  the 
man  and  his  wife  are  well  on  toward  middle  age 
at  the  time  of  considering  the  step.  Contraceptive 
measures  would  serve  as  well.  Under  our  current 
social  customs  marriage  is  likely  to  be  deferred 
until  the  late  twenties,  with  the  result  that  by  the 
time  a  man  and  his  wife  have  had  a  number  of 
children,  conveniently  spaced,  they  are  both  ap- 
proaching forty ;  which  means  that  the  woman  has 



only  a  short  time  to  wait  for  the  menopause,  and 
during  those  years  the  same  contraceptive  practice 
that  has  served  to  space  out  the  births  will  do  just 
as  well  to  prevent  further  conceptions.  The  only 
reason  for  substituting  sterilization  is  apparently 
that  it  saves  trouble. 

Sterilization  is,  we  must  bear  in  mind,  a  pretty 
final  thing  in  the  present  state  of  our  knowledge.  I 
have  said  earlier  that  though  some  authorities  be- 
lieve that  it  can  be  undone,  and  fertility  restored, 
others  doubt  this.  I  myself  have  never  heard  of 
such  a  correction's  being  even  attempted.  The 
person,  therefore,  who  considers  being  sterilized  to 
prevent  further  children  must  consider  it  long  and 
carefully — must  indeed,  I  should  say,  be  able  to 
foresee  his  future  and  his  wife's!  For  if  ever  the 
time  should  come  when  they  felt  that,  after  all, 
they  would  like  to  have  another  child,  they  cannot 
be  sure  (so  far  as  we  know  at  present)  that  the 
sterilization  can  be  undone;  they  may  wish  that 
they  had  resorted  to  contraception  instead.  I  have 
in  mind  an  example  of  this.  A  young  man  and 
his  wife,  in  business  together,  decided  that  they 
did  not  want  a  home  and  children;  so  the  woman 
(against  her  husband's  wishes)  went  to  a  hospital 
and  was  sterilized.  Five  years  later  the  husband 
found  that  he  wanted  children,  and  he  urged  his 


wife  to  undergo  a  re-operation  to  restore  her  fer- 
tility. But  she  argued  that  this  would  mean  a  risk, 
that  up  to  this  time  their  life  had  been  pleasant  and 
fairly  free  from  risks,  and  she  could  not  make  up 
her  mind  to  agree.  Then  another  woman  came  on 
the  scene,  who  was  willing  to  give  the  man  a  home 
with  children.  The  result  was  a  divorce,  the  divi- 
sion of  the  business,  and — lonely  perplexity  for 
the  first  wife. 

If  they  had  adopted  contraception  rather  than 
sterilization,  their  problem  might  have  been  sus- 
ceptible of  a  happier  solution. 

The  procedure  is  liable  to  abuse,  too,  when  re- 
sorted to  for  birth-control  purposes.  I  have  in 
mind  the  case  of  a  man  whose  life  had  always  been 
filled  with  adversity.  There  was  no  doubt  that  he 
had  been  used  very  badly,  hounded  continually  by 
ill  fortune.  When  he  married  (so  he  has  told  me) 
he  and  his  wife  decided  not  to  have  children.  "I 
wouldn't  want  to  bring  a  child  into  the  world  to 
risk  going  through  what  I  have  gone  through,"  he 
said.  "I  feel  that  it  is  a  kindness  to  the  unborn 
to  keep  them  unborn."  Well,  most  of  us  would 
probably  not  agree  with  him,  but  I  emphasize  the 
fact  that  he  is,  in  all  respects  save  this,  a  fine  type 
of  man  and  citizen,  and  I  must  admit  that  he  and 
his  wife  are  utterly  happy.  Yet  here  again  I  be- 



lieve  that  the  sterilization  performed  on  that  man 
was  wrong. 

Nor  is  it  only  the  husband  and  wife  who  in  my 
observation  had  sometimes  put  themselves  in  the 
wrong  in  this  matter;  the  doctors,  too,  may  some- 
times exceed  their  duties.  I  know  of  one  young 
woman  who  was  told  by  the  surgeon  after  she  came 
out  from  an  appendectomy,  "Now,  my  dear,  there 
is  one  burden  that  you  have  off  your  mind  forever. 
While  I  was  taking  out  your  appendix  I  tied  off 
your  tubes,  and  you'll  never  have  to  worry  for  fear 
you'll  have  babies.  Isn't  that  nice?"  Comment  is 
unnecessary;  though  exclamation  marks  are  almost 

If,  however,  there  are  good  reasons  for  steriliza- 
tion in  order  to  prevent  further  births,  the  opera- 
tion should  be  performed  on  the  less  healthy  of  the 
pair  in  most  cases.  A  physician's  advice  should  be 
sought,  naturally,  since  the  decision  will  depend  on 
the  various  circumstances  surrounding  each  case. 

(2)  As  a  therapeutic  measure.  The  cases  in  this 
group  are,  strictly  speaking,  medical  rather  than 
social,  but  they  are  included  because  of  the  service 
that  medicine  has  rendered  to  society  in  preventing 
the  transmission  of  biological  defects.  Sexual  per- 
verts and  the  emotionally  unstable  are  conspicuous 
among  the  subjects  for  sterilization  with  this  aim. 



Such  cases  will  be  discussed  more  fully  under  (3) 
and  (5).  Here  I  may  mention  first  the  case  of  the 
woman  who  cannot  bear  her  children  normally  be- 
cause her  pelvis  is  too  small  and  who  therefore  has 
to  have  a  Caesarean  operation.  It  is  sometimes 
represented  that  sterilization  is  here  in  order  be- 
cause the  woman  may  transmit  this  same  difficulty 
to  her  girl  babies.  This  I  cannot  accept,  never  in 
my  own  observation  having  known  of  a  Caesarean 
girl  child  who,  when  grown  up,  had  any  harder 
time  in  parturition  than  if  she  had  been  born 
naturally;  nor  is  there  any  evidence  to  be  found 
that  such  a  biological  defect  is  transmissible.  The 
real  reason,  I  believe,  for  urging  sterilization  in 
this  case  is  the  unwillingness  of  the  parents  to  have 
any  more  children,  and  I  must  say  that  in  the  cases 
I  have  encountered  the  woman  has  seemed  to  be 
perfectly  content  to  be  rendered  sterile.  Many  a 
woman  faced  by  the  choice  of  having  Caesarean 
babies  or  none  has  found  a  way  out  through  adopt- 
ing children. 

Other  conditions  in  which  sterilization  is  indi- 
cated for  therapeutic  reasons  are  heart  disease, 
tuberculosis,  kidney  trouble,  and  other  ailments  not 
necessarily  inherited.  Any  of  these,  when  coupled 
with  pregnancy,  may  bring  breakdown  or  even 
death  to  the  mother  if  the  disease  is  severe,  or  if 



the  pregnancy  is  not  terminated.  Plenty  of  women 
with  such  diseases  have  had  one  abortion  after  an- 
other, and — if  for  no  other  reason  than  to  relieve 
them  of  worry — these  women  should  be  sterilized, 
since  especially  in  the  case  of  patients  afflicted 
with  tuberculosis  the  worry  often  aggravates  the 

(3)  Privately,  as  a  eugenic  measure  or  for  pro- 
tection. Numerous  persons  have  been  sterilized  by 
the  family  physician  or  surgeon  at  their  own  in- 
stance or  that  of  the  family.  These  are  usually  the 
feeble-minded  or  insane,  the  kinds  of  abnormal 
persons  whose  sexual  impulses,  as  is  well  known, 
are  likely  to  be  strong  and  unchecked  and  who  are 
therefore  a  potential  menace  to  society.  In  these 
cases  it  is  useless  to  ask  whether  the  patients  are 
satisfied,  to  seek  to  learn  how  they  feel  about  hav- 
ing been  sterilized ;  they  are  commonly  of  so  low 
a  mental  grade  that  they  are  incapable  of  construc- 
tive thinking.  But  we  do  know  how  their  parents 
and  relatives  regard  the  procedure.  To  them  it 
means  infinite  relief  from  anxiety,  the  assurance 
that  the  patient  will  not  now  bring  grief  on  them 
through  sexual  crimes  and  perhaps  illegitimate 
children,  and  finally  the  possibility  that  they  can 
keep  him  at  home  instead  of  sending  him  to  an 



No  one  knows  how  many  feeble-minded  and  in- 
sane persons  are  kept  in  their  own  homes,  or  how 
many  of  these  have  been  sterilized.  Of  the  total 
number,  probably  the  majority  live  in  country 
areas.  Indeed,  there  are  many  families  on  run- 
down farms  all  over  the  land  who  are  one  and  all 
feeble-minded  and  who  go  on  reproducing  their 
kind  generation  after  generation,  supported  by  the 
community  through  jobs  requiring  little  or  no  in- 
telligence. Except  for  its  reproductive  feature, 
such  a  situation  is  often  not  so  bad  as  to  call  for  the 
segregation  of  such  persons  in  an  institution.  If  a 
feeble-minded  or  insane  person  can  be  kept  at 
home,  and  is  sterilized  so  as  to  avert  the  most  seri- 
ous kinds  of  trouble,  there  is  no  reason  why  he 
should  be  put  away  in  an  institution.  He  is  doubt- 
less happier  at  home,  and  in  certain  cases  his 
family  is  better  satisfied  to  have  him  at  home. 
But  certain  strict  conditions  are  prerequisite:  the 
family  must  be  able  to  take  care  of  him  properly, 
and  must  be  reconciled  to  the  need  of  making  the 
family  life  revolve  around  its  unfortunate  member. 
A  wealthy  family,  with  a  large  house  and  plenty 
of  servants,  which  is  able  to  regulate  its  life  to  the 
chief  end  of  seeing  that  no  harm  comes  to  outsiders 
through  the  presence  of  the  patient,  does  well  to 
keep  him  at  home.  But  any  less  fortunate  family 



conditions — as  in  a  poor  rural  home — are  likely  to 
lead  to  trouble  in  the  neighborhood. 

What  I  have  just  said  applies  rather  to  adult 
patients  than  to  children,  for  my  observation  sug- 
gests that  the  feeble-minded  child  is  often  much 
better  off  in  a  well-run  institution  among  others 
of  his  kind.  The  staff  of  such  an  institution  are 
trained  to  handle  emotional  upsets,  which  consti- 
tute the  dangerous  element  in  some  cases.  More- 
over, the  family  of  an  adult  patient  will  usually 
agree  to  his  sterilization  in  order  to  protect  them- 
selves and  others,  whereas  the  permission  is  hard  to 
get  in  the  case  of  a  child;  which  is  one  more  reason 
for  placing  the  feeble-minded  child  (especially  if 
he  is  also  emotionally  deranged)  in  an  institution. 

When  sterilization  is  performed  on  a  feeble- 
minded child,  he  usually  does  not  take  in  what  has 
occurred  and  is  likely  to  be  as  happy  afterwards  as 
before.  If  there  is  objection,  it  is  on  the  parents' 
part — they  so  often  simply  refuse  to  give  up  hope 
that  their  child  may  "get  well  some  time."  But 
my  impression,  in  the  cases  where  the  operation  has 
been  permitted  by  the  family,  has  been  that  they 
were  eventually  very  much  relieved  by  it;  a  ter- 
rible responsibility  has  been  lifted  from  their 

In  cases  where  sex  perversion  can  be  proved  to 



be  inherited,  sterilization  is  permissive  in  certain 
States.  That  it  runs  in  families  there  can  be  no 
doubt,  but  this  does  not  apply  to  all  forms  of  it. 
Not  a  little  sex  perversion  is  developed  by  our  over- 
civilization,  as  well  as  by  early  association  with  the 
wrong  kind  of  children.  The  cure  often  resorted 
to,  where  perverts  become  offensive  or  dangerous, 
is  castration,  this  being  done  not,  of  course,  in  the 
name  of  eugenics  but  rather  as  a  therapeutic  meas- 
ure, and  it  is  generally  effective. 

(4)  Punitively,  as  criminals.  Sterilization  in  the 
case  of  criminals  should  never  be  regarded  as  a 
form  of  punishment,  but  always  rather  as  a  eugenic 
measure — that  is,  for  racial  improvement.  Some 
of  the  first  laws  enacted  authorized  the  perform- 
ance of  the  operation  as  a  punitive  measure,  and 
we  may  be  grateful  that  in  every  case  our  courts 
decided  against  it  as  "cruel  and  unusual  punish- 
ment," and  it  no  longer  has  any  place  in  our  penal 
system.  There  were,  in  any  case,  very  few  sterili- 
zations performed  on  that  ground  under  these 
early  laws. 

Before  the  passage  of  any  law  in  Indiana  a  fairly 
large  number  of  sterilizations  were  performed 
with  the  consent  of  the  criminals  themselves — what 
is  called  voluntary  sterilization.  The  operation  in 
these  instances  was  sanctioned  by  the  State  and 



prison  authorities,  and  the  usual  procedure  ran 
something  as  follows : 

A  criminal  would  be  approached  by  the  prison 
doctor  or  the  warden.  He  would  be  asked  whether 
he  had  any  children.  If  so,  how  was  he  able  to 
support  them?  Was  the  State  taking  care  of  them? 
Did  he  add  another  to  his  family  every  time  he  was 
liberated?  Did  his  wife  like  that?  Did  he  like  it? 
Then  how  would  he  like  it  if  a  simple  operation 
were  to  be  performed  on  him  that  wouldn't  make 
the  least  difference  in  his  sex  life,  but  would  make 
it  impossible  for  him  to  have  more  children? 

Every  man  was  skeptical — naturally.  "Has  any- 
body else  ever  had  it  done?"  "Yes — Mike,  down  in 
the  other  corridor."  Mike  would  be  summoned. 
The  two  would  talk  it  over,  Mike  proving  enthusi- 
astic and  selling  Sam  in  no  time.  If  you  or  I  had 
had  ourselves  sterilized,  we  might  be  ardent  advo- 
cates of  sterilization.  So  Sam  says  he'll  think  it 
over,  and  eventually  he  decides  that  it  will  be  a 
good  thing. 

On  this  basis  a  great  many  operations  were  per- 
formed in  Indiana  institutions,  and  the  men  were 
eminently  pleased.  Indeed,  the  voluntary  proce- 
dure might  still  be  carried  on,  had  not  a  law  been 
passed  authorizing  sterilization  in  Indiana.  This 
law,  however,  instead  of  helping  along  the  move- 



ment,  threw  so  many  legal  protections  about  the 
patient  that  the  surgeons  grew  wary  and  the  volun- 
tary practice  was  discontinued.     (It  has,  however, 
gone  on  in  other  kinds  of  institutions  in  Indiana- 
charitable,  for  instance.) 

In  this  group  of  cases,  then,  we  can  say  that  the 
operation  has  been  effective  as  regards  the  attitude 
of  the  patients.  I  myself  have  talked  with  men 
who  have  been  sterilized  and  in  every  case  they  ex- 
pressed complete  satisfaction. 

A  number  of  States  permit  sterilization  of 
habitual  criminals.  Germany,  too,  has  included 
this  provision  in  her  sterilization  plans.  Usually  it 
is  done  not  as  a  means  of  punishment  but  as  a 
eugenic  or  social  measure.  If  a  recidivist  offender 
must  spend  most  of  his  time  in  a  jail,  then  it  is 
hardly  fair  to  society  that  during  every  period  of 
liberty  he  should  cause  another  child  to  be  born 
to  his  wife,  who  very  likely  does  not  want  another, 
especially  since  he  cannot  support  the  ones  they 
already  have.  A  great  deal  is  to  be  said  in  defense 
of  the  sterilization  of  such  persons,  even  when  it 
is  not  strictly  a  eugenic  measure. 

(5)  Under  the  protection  of  the  law,  for  social 
and  eugenic  reasons,  at  the  instance  of  the  parents 
or  the  state.  In  this  group  we  may  include  all 
persons  sterilized  by  the  state,  whether  the  initia- 



tive  is  taken  by  the  patient's  family  or  by  public 
officials.  These  are  all  low-grade  persons,  nearly 
always  too  stupid  or  too  insane  to  apply  voluntarily 
for  the  operation.  Those  among  the  low-grade 
class  who  are  so  imbecile  or  so  insane  that  they 
will  always  remain  incarcerated  do  not  enter  our 
present  consideration,  since  in  their  case  there  is 
no  need  for  sterilization.  It  is  the  border-line  cases 
—those  who  can  be  given  partial  or  entire  freedom 
at  times  or  even  permanently — that  fall  into  this 

In  California  it  is  the  custom  in  nearly  all  cases 
to  obtain  the  written  consent  of  the  relatives  for 
the  sake  of  harmony  and  the  avoidance  of  litiga- 
tion. Institutional  superintendents  report  that 
relatives  often  urge  the  operation.  As  most  people 
know,  the  type  of  insanity  called  manic-depressive 
affects  its  victim  periodically;  he  will  get  over  one 
attack  and  be  released,  but  sooner  or  later  he  is 
taken  with  another  and  must  return  to  an  institu- 
tion. It  is  such  cases  in  particular  that  have  bene- 
fited by  sterilization.  Sometimes,  during  the  sane 
period,  there  will  seem  to  be  every  prospect  that 
sanity  will  continue  permanently;  the  husband  or 
the  wife  returns  home  apparently  for  good,  a  baby 
is  born,  and  then — the  victim  of  the  disease  falls 
once  more  into  depression,  to  be  returned  to  the 


hospital,  the  other  parent  having  then  to  care  for 
the  child  or  children.  Such  couples  have  wel- 
comed sterilization,  pleading  with  the  physicians 
in  charge  to  have  the  operation  performed  for  the 
good  of  the  patient  and  his  or  her  family.  Usually 
both  husband  and  wife  sign  the  order  for  it.  When 
it  is  done,  everybody  concerned  looks  on  it  as  a 
blessing.  (See  Chapter  V  for  a  discussion  of  the 
inheritability  of  insanity.) 

In  the  case  of  border-line  children,  families  are 
often  happy  to  have  the  operation  performed, 
either  for  the  sake  of  the  child  or  in  order  to  pre- 
vent distressing  consequences  as  the  child  grows 
up.  More  will  be  said  in  this  book  about  the 
problem  of  the  border-line  child,  a  problem  whose 
gravity  is  appreciated  by  too  few  persons  consider- 
ing that  this  group  constitutes  the  danger-spot  of 

Any  one  who  has  ever  had  experience  in  dealing 
with  feeble-minded  persons  knows  that  it  is  not 
hard  to  persuade  them  to  do  something  that  may 
be  actually  harmful  to  them.  It  is  for  this  reason 
that  they  fall  victims  to  foul  play  so  readily,  are 
so  often  roped  into  gangs  engaged  in  deviltry,  and 
thus  come  to  the  attention  of  the  authorities.  And 
for  this  same  reason  it  is  very  easy  to  persuade  them 
to  undergo  the  sterilization  operation — they  will 



assent  to  almost  anything  and  sign  any  papers  pre- 
sented to  them.  Special  care  is  thus  called  for  if 
they  are  not  to  be  exploited ;  they  should  have  all 
the  protection  that  a  court  can  throw  about  them. 
And,  as  a  matter  of  fact,  under  the  sterilization 
laws  now  in  use  they  do  have  this  ample  protection. 

Such  people  can  be  made  to  tell  how  much  they 
think  they  have  benefited  by  the  operation ;  while, 
in  the  hands  of  others,  they  can,  through  suggesti- 
bility, be  made  to  say  they  have  been  badly  treated. 

Lest  any  one  put  himself  in  the  position  of  a 
person  to  be  sterilized  and  conjure  up  imaginary 
grievances,  let  me  say  that  such  a  person  knows 
very  little  about  the  feelings  of  one  needing  steri- 
lization. The  fact  is  that  the  greater  part  of  the 
operations  performed  to  date  have  been  done  with 
the  consent  of  the  patients,  in  the  case  of  those  with 
sufficient  mentality  to  understand  what  it  was  all 
about;  and  in  most  other  cases  the  patients  have 
been  sterilized  with  the  consent  of  relatives.  If 
you  were  insane,  I  am  very  sure  that  you  would 
never  wish  to  transmit  such  a  condition  to  any 
child  of  your  own.  If  you  loved  your  children, 
surely  you  would  want  to  spare  them  the  suffering 
that  you  have  had  to  endure.  If  you  were  blind, 
congenitally  deaf,  epileptic,  or  insane,  would  you 
conceivably  want  to  have  children  badly  enough  to 



run  the  risk  of  passing  on  these  defects  to  them? 
If  you  would,  you  are  not  like  the  persons  with 
these  troubles  whom  I  have  known. 

Let  me  cite  an  instance  that  I  myself  encountered 
not  long  ago.  In  this  family  the  mother  had  Hunt- 
ington's  chorea — a  disease  which  is  inherited,  if 
one  parent  has  it,  by  half  the  children  of  the  mar- 
riage. This  pair  had  two  children,  one  of  whom 
was  showing  symptoms.  I  asked  them  directly 
why  they  had  not  had  other  children  besides  these 
two.  The  mother  was  plainly  shocked  that  I 
should  even  suggest  such  a  possibility.  It  was  the 
deepest  sorrow  of  her  life  that  she  had  passed  her 
disease  on  to  the  child.  And  I  learned  one  further 
fact,  pertinent  to  our  subject:  the  husband  and  wife 
had  for  some  time  been  living  in  virtual  celibacy, 
for  fear  of  begetting  more  children,  and  it  was 
threatening  their  health  and  happiness.  She  ex- 
pressed frankly  her  strong  regret  that  she  had  not 
been  sterilized  early  in  life,  as  soon  as  the  chorea 
appeared,  and  assured  me  that  if  she  had  known  at 
the  time  of  her  marriage  that  her  disease  was  in- 
heritable and  that  sterilization  was  feasible,  she 
would  have  had  the  operation  performed  then.  By 
the  time  I  knew  her  it  was  a  lost  hope,  for  she  was 
past  her  menopause;  but  she  was  planning  to  have 
her  son  sterilized,  with  her  husband  in  agreement. 






In  Chapter  III  a  point  was  raised  that  is  of  the 
utmost  importance  in  any  discussion  of  steriliza- 
tion: its  effects  on  normal  sexual  activity  and  on 
the  general  sense  of  well-being  in  the  person  steri- 
lized. If  there  were  any  evidence  that  he  or  she 
complains  of  a  let-down  in  either  the  desire  for 
intercourse  or  the  enjoyment  of  it,  if  the  operation 
has  had  such  systemic  effects  that  the  psychic,  emo- 
tional, and  esthetic  irradiations  of  the  sex  life  have 
been  reduced  or  lost  altogether,  then  a  grave  chal- 
lenge would  be  offered.  But  no  such  evidence  has 
appeared.  The  reports  from  persons  intelligent 
enough  to  testify  on  the  point  are  with  few  excep- 
tions unanimous  in  the  other  direction ;  one  group, 
indeed,  finding  a  new  and  positive  heightening  of 
these  elements. 

It  is  hard  for  many  people  to  believe  this.  Some 
— particularly  those  trained  in  certain  historic 
religious  faiths — find  it  impossible  if  not  indeed 



wrong  to  dissociate  the  sexual  act  from  the  con- 
scious intention  to  produce  offspring.  Still  others, 
and  there  are  entirely  too  many  of  these,  have  so 
little  understanding  of  the  physiology  of  reproduc- 
tion that  they  jump  to  the  conclusion  that 
sterilization  implies  the  complete  stoppage  of 
sexual  activity.  Physicians  encounter  this  attitude 
constantly  in  their  practice.  When  they  tell  us 
that  many  a  pregnant  woman  thinks  that  her  child 
is  to  be  born  through  the  navel,  how  can  we  expect 
her  to  know  the  intricate  mechanism  and  the  com- 
plex activity  of  the  sexual  organs?  It  is  probably 
only  natural  that  the  majority  of  people  who  hear 
or  read  about  sterilization  should  have  the  idea 
that  it  involves  a  definite  alteration,  physical  or 
psychical,  for  the  worse. 

We  have  seen  exactly  what  is  involved  physically 
in  the  operation.  No  organ  is  removed  in  either 
salpingectomy  or  vasectomy;  in  each  case  a  con- 
necting tube  only  is  severed.  The  nervous  system 
is  not  meddled  with  to  any  appreciable  extent. 
Knowing  this,  we  should  not  expect  much  psycho- 
logical change  if  any.  But  to  make  sure,  we  must 
ask  the  men  and  women  who  for  one  reason  or  an- 
other have  been  sterilized. 

What  is  perhaps  our  fullest  and  clearest  source 
of  statistical  information  on  the  subject  is  two  of 



the  studies  made  by  Gosney  and  Popenoe  in  Cali- 
fornia.1 The  general  conclusion  to  be  drawn  from 
its  pages  is  that,  so  far  as  these  men  could  find  out, 
there  was  practically  no  dissatisfaction  felt  by  steri- 
lized patients.  Both  voluntary  and  compulsory 
sterilizations  were  represented.  Of  the  former 
class,  the  study  states  emphatically  that  they  were 
not  only  satisfied  but  even  grateful ;  of  the  compul- 
sory cases  (173  in  number)  one-seventh  were 
regretful,  the  remainder  either  well  pleased  or  not 
dissatisfied.  And  it  may  be  noted  that  these  com- 
pulsory cases  were  all  psychiatric  cases,  in  which 
one  might  naturally  expect  an  augmentation  of 
mental  and  emotional  disturbance. 

For  a  certain  reason  it  is  desirable,  in  examining 
the  replies  made  to  the  authors  of  these  papers,  to 
beware  of  giving  equal  weight  to  those  from  older 
persons  and  to  those  from  younger :  the  testimony  is 
largely  in  the  form  of  questionnaires,  which  pre- 
clude following  up  the  answers  with  oral  questions 
that  would  penetrate  further  into  the  underlying 
conditions.  Thus  a  sterilized  person  of  middle  age 
who  answers  the  questions  printed  might  report 
that  his  or  her  sexual  vigor  has  diminished  follow- 

1  No.  17 — Effect  of  Salpingectomy  on  the  Sexual  Life;  No. 
1 8 — Effect  of  Vasectomy  on  the  Sexual  Life.  For  complete 
list  see  Appendix. 



ing  the  operation,  when  the  truth  would  be  that  it 
was  beginning  to  diminish  anyhow,  at  that  age; 
the  testimony  for  or  against  such  diminution  in 
younger  persons  must  be  given  far  more  weight  be- 
cause the  effects  noted  are  absolute  rather  than 
relative.  Yet,  although  the  California  study  re- 
ports such  adverse  testimony  in  the  case  of  a  num- 
ber of  older  persons,  it  is  more  than  offset  by  the 
far  greater  number  (of  all  ages)  who  reported  an 
increase  in  sexual  satisfaction.  Of  109  women 
studied,  for  instance,  78  noticed  no  change,  22 
noticed  an  improvement,  and  only  9  reported  a 
decrease.  Of  65  men  of  high  type  who  had  been 
sterilized  privately  as  a  means  of  preventing  pro- 
creation, practically  all  said  either  that  the  opera- 
tion actually  improved  their  physical  satisfaction 
and  psychical  well-being,  or  else  that  it  seemed  to 
make  no  difference.  Of  155  women  privately  steri- 
lized, 56  reported  improvement,  92  saw  no  change, 
and  7  claimed  a  decrease. 

It  is  not  hard  to  identify  the  reason  for  the  pre- 
ponderating evidence  of  satisfactory  effects  that  we 
find  in  this  and  other  studies:  the  release  from 
worry,  the  mental  relief  consequent  on  the  removal 
of  fear  lest  a  child  may  be  conceived  as  the  result 
of  the  act.  For  a  considerable  number  of  the  per- 
sons testifying  were  men  and  women  whose  motive 



for  sterilization  was  their  reluctance  to  bring  into 
the  world  more  children  than  they  could  take  care 
of,  or  defective  children  carrying  on  some  trans- 
missible trait.  What  sterilization  does  for  such 
persons  is  to  enable  them  to  have  intercourse  more 
frequently  and  without  fear  of  possible  conse- 
quences. How  markedly  the  libido  (sexual  desire) 
is  heightened  when  this  fear  is  removed  is  illus- 
trated by  the  testimony  of  some  husbands  that  their 
wives  are  always  more  passionate  during  pregnancy 
— a  time  when,  physiologically  speaking,  they 
might  be  expected  to  lose  desire. 

Though,  as  has  been  said,  most  of  those  who  an- 
swered were  in  favor  of  the  operation,  there  were  a 
few  who  expressed  themselves  as  believing  it  to  be 
good  for  other  people  but  not  for  themselves.  One 
of  the  most  interesting  recordings  is  that  of  the 
woman  who,  after  being  sterilized,  objected  vio- 
lently; so  the  physicians  considered  her  case  and 
wrote  to  her  to  return  to  the  institution  so  they 
could  operate  and  restore  her  fertility.  She  did 
not  return. 

I  should  like  to  describe  an  experience  that  came 
within  my  own  observation,  to  show  the  intimate 
connection  between  fear  and  the  due  enjoyment  of 
intercourse,  as  well  as  the  occasional  real  justifica- 
tion for  sterilizing  in  the  interests  of  birth-control. 



In  this  episode  I  pitted  my  own  small  knowledge 
against  the  much  larger  fund  of  a  psychiatrist.  He 
won,  but  I  still  think  I  was  right.  A  man  consulted 
me  about  his  wife.  There  was  insanity  on  both 
sides  of  her  family,  and  she  had  been  in  an  insane 
asylum  for  two  years.  Now  that  she  was  home 
again,  cured,  he  wanted  to  know  what  to  do  to  keep 
her  sane  and  happy.  The  reason  he  had  come  to 
me  was  that  a  psychiatrist  had  told  him  that  they 
ought  to  have  a  second  child,  "so  as  to  keep  her  oc- 
cupied." She  was  greatly  opposed  to  the  idea,  and 
so  was  he.  Her  fear  of  pregnancy  was  growing  to 
the  proportions  of  a  delusion  of  persecution.  So  I 
suggested,  for  the  sake  of  her  happiness  as  well  as 
that  of  her  husband  and  the  nice  youngster  that 
they  already  had,  that  either  he  or  she  be  sterilized, 
so  that  the  two  could  enjoy  the  normal  pleasures  of 
marriage  without  the  fear  of  pregnancy  on  her  part 
— a  fear  that  might  possibly  bring  on  a  recurrence 
of  her  insanity. 

Well,  though  the  husband  was  convinced  that  I 
was  right,  they  decided  to  consult  the  psychiatrist 
once  more.  After  all,  he  was  a  professional  man, 
who  ought  to  know  the  right  thing  to  do.  And  it 
was  his  reputation  that  won.  He  persuaded  them 
to  have  the  baby,  not  the  sterilization.  The  result 
of  that  birth  was  that  the  wife  was  again  committed 



to  the  asylum,  and  from  present  indications  will 
stay  there  for  the  rest  of  her  life.  Thus  a  home  is 
broken  up,  a  husband  has  lost  his  dearly  loved  wife, 
and  their  two  children  are  motherless.  Now,  of 
course,  it  is  not  possible  to  dogmatize  here,  to  pre- 
dict that  the  woman  would  have  stayed  sane  if  she 
had  been  sterilized.  But  what  is  certain  is  that 
if  she  had  been,  or  if  her  husband  had  been,  they 
would  not  have  produced  a  child  whose  prospect  of 
mental  health  and  happiness  is  hardly  promising. 

And  this  was  only  one  woman  of  the  millions 
whose  fear  of  pregnancy  dominates  their  lives,  only 
one  of  the  many  whom,  for  one  reason  or  another,  it 
would  be  a  mercy  to  sterilize  if  the  conditions  are 
such  that  contraception  is  impracticable.  In  the 
case  above,  for  instance,  two  such  conditions  were 
present:  the  woman  was  too  desperately  afraid  to 
put  her  full  trust  in  any  contraceptive  measure,  and 
if  the  most  reliable  of  these  had  proved  a  failure, 
and  she  had  conceived,  there  would  have  been  the 
same  disastrous  outcome  as  actually  did  occur. 

To  attain  some  degree  of  control  over  our  own 
destinies,  to  reduce  the  hold  that  fear  has  over  our 
lives,  is  a  familiar  psychological  formula  for  hap- 
piness and  efficiency.  Contraception  is  proving  of 
inestimable  value  in  this  respect  to  thousands  of 
persons,  and  where  contraception  does  not  answer, 


the  recommendation  should  be  for  sterilization.  I 
should  like  to  repeat  here  what  I  have  often  said 
publicly,  that  sterilization  is  the  kindest  operative 
procedure  introduced  since  the  discovery  of  anes- 
thesia three-quarters  of  a  century  ago.  Except  for 
anesthetics,  nothing  else  has  the  power  of  alleviat- 
ing or  preventing  so  much  human  misery. 





In  any  study  of  sterilization  one  continually 
meets  the  word  "carrier."  For  instance,  in  The 
Biological  Basis  of  Human  Nature  1  Professor  H. 
S.  Jennings  speaks  of  the  great  hope  for  racial  im- 
provement that  may  come  if  only  a  way  can  be 
found  by  which  carriers  of  racial  degeneracy  may 
be  identified.  What  has  this  to  do  with  the  subject 
of  sterilization?  A  great  deal.  We  should  know 
at  least  a  little  about  the  mechanics  of  heredity  if 
we  are  to  discuss  the  subject  intelligently. 

For  thousands  of  years  it  has  been  recognized 
that  certain  traits  seem  to  skip  a  generation.  These 
will  appear  in  one  generation,  fail  to  appear  in  the 
next,  and  then  reappear  in  the  third.  Plant  and 
animal  breeders  were  familiar  with  this  fact  for 
centuries,  but  it  remained  for  an  Augustinian 
monk  of  the  little  Moravian  town  of  Briinn  to 
discover  the  mathematical  law  governing  the 

1  The  Biological  Basis  of  Human  Nature,  New  York,  1930. 



phenomenon.  At  the  time — some  three-quarters 
of  a  century  ago — his  valuable  contribution  to 
human  knowledge  was  neither  appreciated  nor 
even  widely  known;  and  not  until  1900  was  it  de- 
scribed, in  a  little  journal  published  by  the  Natural 
History  Society  of  Briinn,  where  it  had  lain  since 
1859.  This  published  description  constituted  the 
virtual  re-discovery  of  the  Mendelian  principles. 
With  that  re-discovery,  developments  followed 
thick  and  fast  in  the  science  which  we  know  to-day 
as  genetics.  Men  began  to  apply  Mendel's  law  to 
the  inheritance  of  characteristics  in  animals  and 
man.  Charles  B.  Davenport  studied  human  eye- 
color,  for  instance,  and  found  that  it  is  inherited 
according  to  this  law.  Others  studied  color  in- 
heritance in  rodents,  to  such  good  purpose  that  by 
our  own  day,  if  you  describe  to  a  geneticist  the 
color  inheritance  of  a  mouse  or  a  guinea-pig,  he 
can  tell  you  within  quite  narrow  limits,  sometimes 
exactly,  what  the  color  of  the  offspring  will  be. 
During  the  same  period,  Thomas  Hunt  Mor- 
gan and  his  associates  at  Columbia  University  were 
studying  the  mechanism  of  inheritance  in  the  fruit- 
fly.  Cytologists  (students  of  the  cell)  were  observ- 
ing the  components  of  cells  and  describing  their 
discoveries.  As  for  inherited  human  characteris- 
tics, similarly  productive  work  has  been  done  and 



is  still  being  done.  Some  of  these  are  found  to  be 
inherited  in  such  complicated  ways  that  the  only 
method  by  which  they  can  be  studied  is  the  statis- 

If  you  look  at  a  cell  through  the  microscope  you 
find  within  it  a  little  globe  called  the  nucleus, 
filled  with  what  looks  like  granular  material.  If 
you  were  to  observe  a  long  series  of  these  cells,  you 
would  sometimes  note  curious  changes  occurring 
in  them.  These  mark  the  process  of  multiplica- 
tion. As  is  well  known,  the  body  grows  by  an  in- 
crease in  the  number  of  its  cells.  A  cell  that  is  to 
grow  must  divide,  forming  two  cells.  When  it 
divides,  all  of  its  component  parts  divide  also. 
This  should  be  remembered,  since  it  has  a  bearing 
on  heredity. 

The  granular  material  in  the  nucleus  congre- 
gates into  tiny  lines  called  chromosomes.  All  of 
these  chromosomes,  except  sperm  cells  (sperma- 
tozoa) and  egg  cells  (ova),  are  found  in  pairs.  In 
the  case  of  spermatozoa  and  ova,  each  has  half  of 
the  normal  number  of  chromosomes,  which  are  on 
their  way  to  create  new  individuals  and  are  thus 
reduced  in  order  that  this  new  individual  may  not 
receive  twice  as  many  chromosomes  as  its  parents 
possessed.  Every  species  has  a  definite  number  of 
chromosomes.  We  humans  have  twenty-four 


pairs;  fruit-flies  have  only  four  pairs.  We  often 
hear  biologists  say  that  every  individual  receives 
half  his  characteristics  from  one  parent  and  half 
from  the  other.  This  is  because  the  chromosomes 
are  the  hereditary  bridge  from  one  generation  to 
the  next 

The  chromosomes  themselves  are  made  up  of 
smaller  units  called  genes,  and  every  characteristic 
of  the  body  of  an  animal  or  a  plant  is  produced 
by  the  interaction  of  these  genes.  Like  the  chromo- 
somes, genes  go  in  pairs.  It  is  believed  with  good 
reason  that  the  members  of  each  pair  are  placed 
directly  opposite  each  other  in  the  chromosomes. 
In  creating  the  characteristics  in  the  body  for 
which  they  are  responsible,  each  two  genes  work  as 
a  team.  When,  in  the  process  of  reproduction, 
they  come  to  be  dissociated  one  from  the  other  we 
know  that  in  spite  of  their  intimate  relationship, 
neither  one  has  influenced  the  other ;  and  it  is  this 
stability  of  the  gene  that  keeps  the  various  inherited 
characteristics  stable  in  their  turn. 

Genes  themselves  can  and  do  divide,  and  thus 
there  is  always  a  lavish  amount  of  germ-plasm,  far 
more  than  is  ever  used.  For  instance,  during 
copulation  between  a  male  and  a  female  animal, 
sometimes  as  many  as  10,000,000  sperm  are  trans- 
ferred. The  tassel  of  the  corn  plant  produces  so 






Persons  aff«ct«<i. 

A  typical  pedigree  showing  the  inheritance  of  a  simple  Mendelian 
dominant  trait  (one  type  of  deafness).  Many  human  characteristics 
are  similarly  inherited.  Some  are  good  for  the  individuals  possessing 
them,  some  bad,  and  some  neutral  in  their  effects.  (Courtesy 
Eugenical  News.) 


many  of  the  pollen  cells,  which  are  as  fine  as  the 
finest  dust  particles,  that  the  air  will  sometimes  be 
tinted  yellow  with  it  when  a  breeze  lifts  them  off 
the  tassel. 

Though  inherited  traits  or  characteristics  are  de- 
pendent upon  the  interaction  of  all  the  genes,  a 
difference  in  one  of  a  pair  of  genes  will  make  a 
very  great  difference  in  the  end-product — that  is, 
in  the  completely  developed  animal.  In  your  own 
case,  for  example,  if  one  of  a  pair  differs  from  the 
other,  this  difference  may  be  the  direct  and  specific 
source  of  your  ability  to  throw  your  thumb  out  of 
joint;  or  if  one  of  another  pair  differs,  it  may  mean 
that  you  have  the  ability  to  transmit  blue  eyes  to 
some  of  your  children  although  your  own  eyes  are 

What  geneticists  are  trying  to  do  is  to  learn  what 
all  the  inherited  traits  are.  They  can  hope  to  do 
this  with  animals,  but  some  people  say  that  they 
cannot  learn  anything  about  human  beings  be- 
cause they  cannot  breed  human  beings  as  they  do 
animals.  The  answer  is  that  they  don't  have  to — 
human  beings  have  very  obligingly  (if  uncon- 
sciously) done  the  mating  themselves,  and  have  left 
records.  Often  there  are  three  generations  of  the 
same  family  living,  so  that  the  geneticist  may  go 
forth  with  his  measuring  instruments  and  his  pen- 



cil  and  paper  and  reach  valid  conclusions.  And, 
as  research  has  discovered,  for  the  most  part  when 
a  given  trait  is  found  to  behave  in  inheritance 
according  to  a  certain  pattern  in  one  family,  it 
behaves  so  in  all  families.  That  is  because  we  all 
have  parts  of  the  same  original  germ-plasm. 

How,  then,  do  we  inherit?  Well,  we  must  bear 
in  mind  that  there  is  one  pair  of  genes  for  every 
characteristic,  and  that  the  child  inherits  one  from 
each  parent.  The  father  has,  let  us  say,  a  pair  of 
genes  for  blue  eyes,  and  the  mother  has  a  pair  of 
the  kind  of  genes  that  determine  brown  eyes.  The 
child  receives  one  gene  from  his  father's  pair  and 
one  from  his  mother's  pair,  to  reach  his  full  quota 
of  two.  Then,  we  might  ask,  what  color  will  his 
eyes  be?  Obviously,  in  this  trait  he  will  be  a  hy- 
brid. But  his  eyes  prove  to  be  brown.  Why,  you 
ask?  It  is  "just  because,"  and  that's  the  best  answer 
that  can  be  given.  Experimental  evidence  shows 
that  when  a  gene  for  brown  eyes  is  mated  with  a 
gene  for  blue  eyes,  the  result  will  be  brown  eyes. 
Mendel  said  that  one  character,  the  dominant, 
dominates  the  other,  the  recessive.  The  recessive 
(blue-eye  character)  was  there,  in  the  case  above, 
but  you  couldn't  tell  this  by  looking  at  the  child 
because  the  dominant  had  been  the  brown-eye 



So,  in  a  family  which  is  homogeneous  for  brown, 
nothing  but  brown  eyes  can  result;  and  in  an  all- 
blue-eyed  family,  only  blue  can  be  transmitted. 
But  in  a  hybrid  family,  as  a  geneticist  would  call  it, 
there  are  chances  for  producing  both  blue  and 
brown.  Thus  two  brown-eyed  persons — both  of 
whom,  however,  have  recessive  blue-eye  genes — 
can  have  a  blue-eyed  child ;  similarly,  two  persons 
who  cannot  throw  their  thumbs  out  of  joint  will 
sometimes  produce  a  child  who  can.  But  it  is 
readily  seen  that  when  two  recessives  marry  they 
cannot  have  children  bearing  the  dominant  trait. 
For  the  dominant  trait  is  just  dominant;  if  either 
parent  possessed  it,  it  would  be  apparent.  When 
the  children  of  two  recessives  show  the  recessive 
trait  only,  it  is  because  no  dominant  blots  it  out. 

What  Mendel  did  principally  was  to  discover 
that  there  is  a  mathematical  law  governing  this 
matter  of  inheritance.  You  can  discover  it  for 
yourself  if  you  will  take  two  teacups  and  put  some 
white  beans  in  one  and  some  black  beans  in  the 
other,  both  representing  genes.  Now  it  is  obvious 
that  from  the  black  cup  you  can  take  only  black 
heredity;  from  the  white,  only  white  heredity.  In 
each  case  you  have  drawn  out  two  "pures."  If 
you  take  one  from  each,  you  will  have  a  recessive 
and  a  dominant  coupled  together,  and  such  a  com- 



bination  would  produce  a  dominant-appearing  in- 
dividual. Now  make  up  for  yourself  some  new 
generations  that  will  represent  the  way  that  selec- 
tion works  out  in  Nature.  Mix  in  another  cup  one 
hundred  black  beans  and  one  hundred  white  ones; 
this  is  a  "marriage"  that  is  to  produce  some  pures 
and  some  hybrids.  Take  a  pencil  and  paper  and 
rule  three  columns.  At  the  top  of  the  first  column 
make  two  solid  black  dots;  at  the  top  of  the  second, 
two  open  white  dots;  and  at  the  top  of  the  third, 
one  black  dot  and  one  white  one.  These  three  col- 
umns represent  the  three  possible  combinations  of 
beans  which  you  are  going  to  draw  from  the  cup. 
Now  you  are  ready  to  begin  the  process  of  "selec- 

Close  your  eyes  and  draw  two  beans  from  the 
cup  at  random.  They  will  both  be  black  (pure), 
or  both  be  white  (pure) ,  or  there  will  be  one  black 
and  one  white  (hybrid).  Whichever  pair  it  is, 
make  a  check  in  the  corresponding  column  on  your 
paper.  Keep  on  drawing  the  beans  out,  always 
with  your  eyes  shut  and  at  random,  for  that  is  the 
way  heredity  works.  In  the  end,  when  all  the  beans 
are  out  of  the  cup,  you  will  find  that  you  have 
recorded  very  close  to  25  pairs  of  blacks,  25  pairs 
of  whites,  and  50  pairs  of  hybrids — one  black  and 
one  white.  This  is  the  law  that  Mendel  established 



through  growing  garden  peas.  He  mated  peas 
that  produced  tall  vines  with  peas  that  produced 
short  or  dwarf  vines;  and  he  found  that  the  first- 
generation  hybrids  were  all  tall,  but  that  when  he 
mated  these  hybrids  together  he  got  just  what  you 
got  when  you  picked  those  beans  out  of  the  cup. 

This  is  practically  all  there  is  to  the  principle 
discovered  by  Mendel.  And  when  we  come  to  ask 
how  many  human  characteristics  there  are  that  are 
inherited  thus  simply  and  that  we  know  to-day,  the 
answer  is  about  two  hundred.  If  you  are  interested 
in  learning  what  these  are,  turn  to  Appendix  B, 
Table  I,  where  you  will  find  a  partial  list,  domi- 
nance and  recessiveness  being  shown. 

Now  you  may  say  that,  if  this  is  all  there  is  to  it, 
the  problem  of  eradicating  degeneracy  ought  to  be 
easy :  simply  find  the  persons  who  carry  the  genes 
of  mental  defectiveness  and  sterilize  them.  The 
trouble  is  that  there  is  a  good  deal  more  to  it  than 
that.  Many  of  the  great,  worth-while  characteris- 
tics of  us  human  beings  are  not  inherited  in  the 
simple  manner  described  above.  Certain  human 
defects  are,  and  these  can  easily  be  traced  back 
through  generations.  But  what  about  such  things 
as  mental  ability?  Is  that  a  simple  matter?  What 
about  temperament,  that  very  complex  trait  so  im- 
portant for  human  happiness?  You  see,  these 



things  that  we  find  in  different  degrees  cannot  be 
inherited  as  simple  Mendelian  characters  are.  But 
this  does  not  mean  that  we  are  helpless  in  our 
efforts  to  control  them. 

Who,  for  example,  would  say  that,  if  all  the 
horses  in  the  world  were  interbred  until  all  types 
were  merged  in  a  kind  of  universal  mongreliza- 
tion,  we  couldn't  quite  quickly  reestablish  the  race 
horses  and  the  draft  horses,  and  the  ponies,  and  the 
polo  ponies,  and  the  saddle  horses?  By  selective 
breeding  we  could  do  it  quite  easily  in  fewer  years 
than  we  anticipated.  Yet  racing  ability,  for  in- 
stance, is  inherited  in  a  very  complicated  manner, 
so  complicated  that  the  only  way  we  can  study  it 
is  by  statistical  methods. 

Now  certain  forms  of  absolute  f eeble-mindedness 
are  inherited  as  simple  recessives.  Certain  others 
— because  they  are  not  absolute  non-intelligence, 
but  rather  are  varying  and  relative  grades  of  mere 
sub-intelligence — are  inherited  complexly.  And 
that  is  why  it  seems  so  certain  that  we  can  recog- 
nize the  carriers  of  f  eeble-mindedness ;  usually  they 
are  only  a  little  higher  mentally  than  persons  who 
are  actually  of  lower  grades. 

The  ability  to  cope  with  life,  to  live  happily,  is 
not  a  simple  Mendelian  characteristic.  Sometimes 
one  simple  Mendelian  character  will  spoil  the 



chances  of  an  otherwise  excellent  promise  of  great 
capacity.  Take  Huntington's  chorea,  for  example, 
also  known  as  shaking  palsy.  Without  it,  some 
people  would  have  risen  to  heights  now  impossible 
of  achievement  because  they  were  handicapped  by 
this  dominant  defect. 

There  are  other  characteristics  whose  mode  of 
transmission  is  not  very  complicated,  as  for  exam- 
ple color  inheritance  in  human  beings.  When  a 
black  woman  has  a  child  by  a  white  man,  the  result 
is  a  mulatto.  Mulattoes  are  of  quite  uniform  color. 
When  two  mulattoes  marry  and  produce  children, 
the  children  may  range  through  shades  of  color 
from  white  to  black.  There  are  four  colors  in  the 
skin  of  each  of  us:  white,  yellow,  red,  and  black. 
If  we  eliminate  the  red  and  the  yellow  and  consider 
the  white  and  the  black  we  should  find  that  there 
are  two  pairs  of  genetic  determiners  working  on  the 
end-trait  color,  and  this  accounts  for  the  varying 
degrees  of  color  in  children  of  mulattoes.  In  other 
words,  there  are  a  greater  number  of  combinations 
possible  where  four  genes  are  concerned  than 
where  two  are  concerned. 

In  considering  the  many  characteristics  which 
go  to  make  up  the  individual,  we  must  never  forget 
that  the  characteristics  that  have  gone  into  a  com- 
bination sometimes  come  out  a  generation  or  two 



later  with  new  partners.  This  is  another  way  of 
saying  that  one  gene  or  one  chromosome  is  not 
affected  by  the  partner  it  had  while  residing  in  the 
body  of  its  temporary  custodian.  We  have  all  seen 
men  who  are  partly  white  but  who  have  the  kinky 
hair  of  the  Negro.  Occasionally  one  sees  a  fairly 
black  man  with  light-blue  or  gray  eyes,  denoting 
that  he  was  probably  the  son  of  mulattoes  each  of 
whom  had  a  blue-eyed  parent.  This  is  so  often  the 
case  to-day  that  one  cannot  tell  from  a  man's  color 
just  how  much  he  has  inherited  from  his  white  an- 
cestors, because  skin  color  alone  is  no  criterion. 
He  may  have  inherited  a  majority  of  the  characters 
of  the  white  grandparents,  even  to  straight  hair, 
aquiline  features,  and  so  forth,  and  still  have  black 
skin.  In  fact,  it  is  my  belief  that  most  of  the  dark 
Negroes  who  are  really  accomplishing  things  to- 
day are  of  this  type.  Unfortunately,  many  of  them 
do  not  themselves  know  just  what  their  heredity 
has  been,  and  this  fact  has  handicapped  investiga- 
tors, who  have  had  to  depend  for  their  studies  on 
two  consecutive  generations  only. 

In  accounting  for  the  complicated  phases  of 
heredity,  we  need  but  to  remember  that  the  more 
pairs  of  genes  or  determiners  involved  in  the  in- 
heritance of  any  trait  that  interests  us,  the  harder  it 

=Consf\cuous1^  \a\enUd   (genius) 

=  Musical 

d  -  Deceased.     Y=  Too  x^ou 


A  typical  pedigree  showing  how  a  worthwhile  human  characteristic 
(musical  ability)  runs  in  a  family.  This  is  not  dominant  nor  re- 
cessive, but  a  student  finds  differing  grades  of  it  in  a  pedigree. 
Musically  inclined  persons  tend  to  produce  musically  inclined  children. 
They  do  not  always  do  so,  but,  on  the  other  hand,  often  produce 
children  more  musical  than  they  themselves.  (Courtesy  Eugenical 


is  to  study  that  trait  except  by  statistical  methods. 
But  just  as  the  skin  color  in  the  human  shows  varia- 
tion, so — but  to  an  infinitely  greater  degree — does 
the  inheritance  of  some  other  traits.  This  explains 
why  geniuses  so  seldom  produce  children  who  are 
geniuses.  The  parents  themselves  represent  the 
upper  level  of  the  potentialities  of  their  germ- 
plasm,  and  the  subsequent  tendency  is  therefore 
downward.  But  selection  continuously  maintained 
tends  to  keep  the  type  varying  around  any  given 

Knowing  these  broad  principles  you  will  better 
appreciate  what  is  meant  when  we  say  that  some 
traits  definitely  tend  to  "run  in  families."  Their 
inheritance  is  sometimes  too  difficult  to  pin  down 
to  a  single  pair  of  determiners,  but  one  family  his- 
tory after  another  has  shown  that  certain  families 
produce  these  traits  generation  after  generation.  A 
list  of  such  inherited  traits  is  given  in  Appendix 
B,  Table  II. 

Then  there  is  still  another  kind  of  inheritance 
called  sex-linked  inheritance.  It  was  sex  linkage 
that  enabled  the  early  investigators  of  the  genes 
to  learn  what  position  those  lie  in  along  the  chro- 
mosomes and  that  thus  made  chromosome  "maps" 
possible.  When  the  Nobel  Prize  was  awarded  to 
Dr.  Morgan  in  1933  it  was  largely  on  the  basis  of 


this  remarkable  discovery.  By  selective  breeding 
of  fruit-flies  he  and  his  associates  were  able  to  map 
out  the  relative  positions  which  different  genes 
occupied  on  the  chromosomes.  A  certain  pair  of 
chromosomes  are  the  determiners  of  sex.  The 
male  has  two  sex  chromosomes  that  do  not  match, 
but  the  female  always  has  a  pair  that  are  mates, 
and  one  of  the  male's  is  like  both  of  the  female's. 
That  one  always  comes  from  the  female  in  inherit- 
ance. It  is  a  fifty-fifty  chance  which  one  the  em- 
bryo receives  from  the  father.  If  it  gets  the  odd 
one,  the  embryo  will  be  a  male,  while  if  it  gets  the 
one  like  that  which  it  received  from  its  mother,  it 
will  be  a  female. 

Along  this  odd  chromosome  lie  genes  for  cer- 
tain traits  from  the  father ;  and  along  the  other  one 
lie  other  genes,  coming  of  course  from  the  mother. 
The  male  chromosome  sometimes  has  no  genes 
complementary  to  those  in  the  female  chromosome, 
and  when  this  is  so,  there  is  nothing  to  dominate 
the  genes  from  the  mother.  Traits  thus  appear 
that  are  sex-linked.  Geneticists  sometimes  say  that 
these  characteristics  are  recessive  in  females  and 
dominant  in  males,  which  is  partly  true.  They  are 
passed  on  through  the  mother  and  do  skip  a  gen- 
eration. Thus,  the  ex-King  of  Spain  has  sons  who 
are  "bleeders."  They  are  constantly  in  danger  of 



their  lives  because  their  blood  does  not  have  the 
ability  to  clot  within  the  normal  time,  and  they 
bleed  from  any  wound  for  many  days.  This  trait 
came  from  the  Queen's  father ;  King  Alfonso  had 
nothing  to  do  with  passing  it  on.  Color-blindness 
is  another  character  that  one  inherits  from  his 
mother's  father.  Sex-linked  traits  are  seldom  pos- 
sessed by  women  because  the  chances  are  so  small 
that  any  one  would  receive  a  pair  of  determiners  or 
genes  for  this  one  character.  If  the  woman  did, 
then  all  her  male  offspring  would  possess  it, 
whereas  under  ordinary  conditions  only  half  would 
receive  it  on  an  average,  because  there  would  be 
only  one  chromosome  bearing  a  gene  which  was 
the  determiner  for  it.  A  list  of  some  of  the  sex- 
linked  traits  of  man  is  given  in  Appendix  B,  Ta- 
ble III. 

Some  of  the  traits  listed  in  the  Appendix  are 
exceedingly  dangerous,  while  some  are  beneficial 
or  neutral  in  their  effect  on  the  individual.  The 
essential  fact  to  remember  in  reading  through  this 
list  is  that  if  a  person  inherits  recessives,  there  is 
no  chance  of  his  or  her  transmitting  dominants. 
And  in  many  cases  this  holds  for  the  more  complex 
traits  as  well.  For  instance,  research  fails  to  dis- 
cover a  single  normal  child  whose  parents  were 
feeble-minded  and  were  in  turn  the  children  of 



feeble-minded  parents.  But  there  are  cases  on 
record  in  which  a  feeble-minded  person  has  mar- 
ried an  insane  man  and  had  normal  children.  That 
is  because  each  child  received  genes  for  normality 
along  with  the  genes  for  subnormality,  and  the 
normal  ones  were  dominant.  But  such  a  child  must 
indeed  watch  his  step  when  he  comes  to  marry,  for 
the  recessive  genes  for  subnormality  may  mate  with 
other  recessives  in  the  sperm,  resulting  in  subnor- 
mal children. 

In  certain  cases,  two  feeble-minded  persons  have 
produced  children  who  would  pass  for  normal; 
here,  one  parent  has  usually  been  found  to  have 
come  by  his  or  her  feeble-mindedness  through 
other  means  than  heredity.  For  though  the  body 
may  have  been  affected,  the  germ-plasm  was  not, 
and  the  dominant  normality  overcame  the  genes 
for  degeneracy  which  were  furnished  by  the  other 

There  are  also  cases  in  which  a  brother  and  a 
sister  have  produced  a  child  somewhat  brighter 
than  either  parent.  There  is  such  a  child  in  a  Cali- 
fornia institution  for  feeble-minded.  It  is  not 
normal,  but  the  inherent  potentialities  in  the  germ- 
plasm  provided  for  a  child  slightly  higher  in  the 
scale  than  its  parents.  I  know,  too,  of  a  case  at  the 
other  extreme,  in  which  a  brother  and  a  sister  have 



been  married  under  assumed  names  for  many  years 
and  have  two  extremely  talented  children,  both  of 
whom  seem  fully  as  intelligent  as  the  parents.  The 
evidence  is  good,  therefore,  that  there  were  no 
traits  for  degeneracy  inherent  in  the  parents'  germ- 
plasm,  or  they  would  have  stood  a  much  greater 
chance  of  pairing  up  and  thus  creating  degeneracy. 
This  is  the  reason  why  marriage  within  a  family  is 
somewhat  more  dangerous  than  marriage  with  out- 
siders. If  the  outsider,  however,  has  the  same 
traits  as  the  family,  then  there  is  no  more  danger  in 
marrying  within  the  family  than  there  is  in  marry- 
ing such  an  outsider.  Some  of  the  greatest  families 
in  the  world  have  been  the  products  of  quite  close 
family  marriages.  The  Galton-Darwin-Wedg- 
wood  family  is  a  case  in  point.  Cleopatra  was  ex- 
ceedingly inbred,  if  we  may  apply  the  same  termi- 
nology to  humans  that  we  use  for  animals.  Many 
persons  think  that  cousin  marriages  are  responsible 
for  a  great  deal  of  feeble-mindedness  and  insanity, 
and  that  our  institutions  are  filled  with  the  results 
of  such  marriages;  but  this  is  not  so.  As  I  have 
said,  there  is  no  more  danger  in  cousin  marriage 
than  there  is  in  marriage  with  an  outsider  provided 
the  outsider  carries  the  same  genetic  traits.  In 
short,  inbreeding  does  not  in  itself  produce  weak- 
ness ;  what  produces  it  is  rather  the  latent  or  reces- 



sive  genes  for  degeneracy,  which  two  members  of 
the  same  family  are  more  likely  to  carry  (and  so 
to  combine)  than  two  persons  are  who  are  not 
members  of  the  same  family. 






We  have  no  way  of  knowing  just  how  much 
feeble-mindedness  and  insanity  there  was  in  the 
United  States  in  the  early  days,  but  we  do  know 
that  at  the  very  first  there  was  practically  none, 
because  the  environment  was  too  harsh  to  allow  a 
degenerate  to  live.  Quick  wit  and  ingenuity  were 
required  for  survival.  That  early  history  consti- 
tutes an  excellent  lesson  in  what  a  natural  life  does 
for  mankind.  There  is  no  place  for  the  misfits  in 
the  upward  scheme  of  evolution.  Indeed,  if  we 
can  learn  anything  from  that  lesson,  it  is  that 
Nature  certainly  does  not  want  weaklings.  In 
every  species,  we  find  that  the  inferior  individual 
is  soon  exterminated  and  the  superior  allowed  to 
survive.  So,  in  the  early  days  of  all  nations,  when 
men  had  to  fight  for  existence,  a  biologically  better 
lot  of  men  and  women  could  have  been  found  than 
we  find  to-day,  now  that  civilization  has  done  its 
best  to  save  as  many  weaklings  as  possible.  As  we 
look  back  over  the  history  of  New  England,  for 



example,  we  find  a  fairly  long  period  during  which 
there  were  no  almshouses,  town  farms,  or  other 
such  institutions;  and  also  that  after  town  farms 
were  established  they  were  occupied  for  the  most 
part  by  a  few  old  people  whose  dependence  was 
due  less  to  subnormality  than  to  misfortune. 

An  intensive  study  of  the  history  of  a  typical 
New  England  town,  in  many  aspects  related  to  the 
subject  of  degeneracy,  has  been  made  by  the  writer 
and  Dr.  Arthur  Estabrook.  We  investigated  the 
earliest  census  figures,  as  well  as  church  and  town 
records,  and  uncovered  some  remarkable  facts. 
The  story  is  so  typical  of  the  early  development  of 
rural  areas  in  New  England  that  it  will  serve  well 
as  an  example  of  the  progress  of  degeneracy  in  our 

The  story  begins  with  the  petitions  made  by 
dwellers  in  the  eastern  part  of  the  State  for  tracts 
of  land  in  the  western  part,  on  which  they  might 
settle.  The  governor  made  many  grants,  and  set- 
tlers emigrated  from  the  neighborhood  of  Boston 
through  the  woods  and  sparsely  settled  communi- 
ties between,  to  the  beautiful  hill  site  of  the  present 
town,  which  we  shall  call  Cellarholes.  Here  the 
soil  was  terribly  poor,  and  rocks  were  everywhere ; 
but  these  rugged  men  and  women  went  to  work  and 
eked  out  an  existence.  The  village  grew  rapidly 



until  at  one  time  it  had  a  population  of  about  1,500. 
During  the  stagecoach  and  tavern  period  Cellar- 
holes  was  a  prosperous  town  boasting  fifteen  or 
twenty  industries ;  and  with  prosperity  there  came, 
of  course,  an  increased  degree  of  social  security. 

Now,  to  understand  the  whole  story,  we  must  go 
over  to  England  and  see  what  was  happening  there. 
The  news  that  came  from  the  young  colony  was 
presently  so  good,  bearing  promise  of  such  certain 
security,  that  the  British  Government  began  to  en- 
courage emigration  and  colonization.  But  did  that 
government  try  to  select  the  best  of  its  families  and 
urge  them  to  emigrate  to  Massachusetts?  No.  In- 
stead, it  allowed  those  to  go  who  wanted  to,  and 
every  once  in  a  while  exported  a  shipload  of  pros- 
titutes and  misfits  of  the  same  kind  as  were  being 
sent  to  Georgia. 

Some  of  these  undesirables  drifted  to  Cellar- 
holes,  and  married;  and  their  children  intermar- 
ried with  the  families  already  there.  Moreover, 
westward-moving  emigrants  were  continually  driv- 
ing through  the  town,  and  the  Cellarholes  folk 
heard  tales  of  the  fertile  prairies  that  these  emi- 
grants were  bound  for,  and  of  the  fertile  Connec- 
ticut River  valley  only  a  few  miles  away,  and  of 
the  gentle  slopes  of  the  Hudson  River  valley  where 
there  were  no  stones,  and  crops  had  the  advantage 



of  longer  growing  periods.  Those  who  had  what 
New  Englanders  still  call  gumption  pricked  up 
their  ears.  Those  who  hadn't  were  satisfied  where 
they  were. 

In  time  the  railroad  came  through  this  part  of 
the  State,  though  eight  miles  from  Cellarholes,  and 
since  almost  every  foot  of  the  way  from  railroad 
to  town  was  uphill,  the  townspeople  were  handi- 
capped in  getting  supplies  to  Cellarholes.  Pres- 
ently the  young  people,  particularly  those  with  in- 
telligence and  ambition,  began  to  seek  wider 
opportunities  elsewhere,  in  places  where  life  of- 
fered more  outlet  for  their  energies.  So  they  left 
Cellarholes.  But  what  did  they  leave  behind — a 
better  or  a  poorer  group  than  themselves?  The 
answer  comes  all  too  readily.  As  you  picture  this 
selective  process  going  on,  generation  after  gener- 
ation, it  may  occur  to  you  to  liken  Cellarholes  to 
a  great  milk-vat.  Running  off  the  top  is  a  tube 
that  continually  siphons  off  the  cream  as  it  rises, 
and  what  is  left  is  skim  milk.  Much  of  what  is 
left  in  Cellarholes  was  and  is  skim  milk.  The  ex- 
ceptions are  some  fine  people  who  have  found  their 
greater  opportunities  in  staying  and  managing  the 
town,  and  a  few  old  people  who  have  come  back  to 
their  childhood  home  to  spend  their  remaining 
years.  But  for  the  most  part,  the  townspeople  can 



be  characterized  in  a  remark  made  to  a  circuit 
judge  who  was  unfamiliar  with  the  place.  He 
asked  a  native  who  had  been  called  as  a  witness 
what  they  did  in  Cellarholes.  She  replied,  "In 
summer  we  raise  blueberries,  and  in  winter  we 
raise  hell." 

Should  you  go  to  the  various  public  institutions 
of  Massachusetts  and  look  for  the  names  of  those 
who  have  come  from  Cellarholes,  you  would  find 
complete  quota  fulfillment  and  more.  If  you  were 
to  go  to  the  county  seat  and  look  through  the  files 
of  the  Humane  Society,  of  the  jail,  of  the  charity 
organizations,  you  would  find  that,  considering  its 
very  small  present  population,  Cellarholes  has  al- 
ways had  many  more  persons  in  constant  trouble 
than  has  any  other  community  of  corresponding 

Degeneracy  has  increased  here,  just  as  it  has  in- 
creased in  many  another  community.  Cellarholes 
constitutes  almost  a  country  slum.  Yet  it  is  not 
altogether  fair  to  characterize  the  town  thus;  for 
the  countryside  is  beautiful  indeed,  and  within  the 
town  itself  one  finds  some  families  of  newcomers 
who  are  outstandingly  desirable  in  type — one 
Swedish  family,  for  instance,  who  in  true  mental 
and  physical  worth  probably  rank  among  the  top 
two  percent  of  our  population. 



If,  on  the  whole,  degeneracy  has  increased  in 
this  New  England  town  to  such  an  extent  that  a 
large  proportion  of  its  people  now  are  below  par, 
it  is  typical  of  what  may  be  expected  to  happen 
when  good  pioneer  stock  is  mixed  with  bad  immi- 
grant stock,  to  combine  and  recombine  so  that  a 
few  generations  later  the  mixture  is  producing 
degenerates.  I  do  not  imply  that  most  of  our  de- 
generacy can  be  traced  back  to  England;  I  want 
merely  to  bring  out  the  fact  that  innate  characteris- 
tics producing  degeneracy  do  not  for  the  most  part 
arise  spontaneously. 

Let  us  go  a  step  further.  Let  us  consider  the 
nation  pretty  well  established  so  far  as  security 
is  concerned.  Now,  other  nations  face  the  prob- 
lem of  excess  population,  and  America  has  come 
to  be  generally  accepted  as  the  place  to  send  this 
excess,  in  lieu  of  colonies.  Suppose  that  you  were 
a  public  official  in,  say,  Italy.  And  suppose  you 
had  some  inkling  of  the  fact  that  there  are  people 
and  people,  that  some  make  good  neighbors  and 
some  make  troublesome  ones.  Then  suppose,  fur- 
ther, that  you  realized  that  you  live  on  a  stony 
peninsula,  that  your  land  is  not  adequate  to  feed 
your  increasing  population.  Might  it  not  occur 
to  you  that  it  would  be  a  fine  plan  to  assist,  through 
gentle  propaganda,  some  of  the  surplus  to  emi- 



grate?  This  is  what  did  occur  to  certain  Italian 
officials,  and  they  designated  a  Commissioner  of 
Emigration  who  stayed  on  duty  while  our  Commis- 
sioner of  Immigration  was  asleep;  at  least,  our 
official  seemed  powerless  to  do  much  to  prevent 
the  coming  of  those  whom  the  Italian  Commis- 
sioner wanted  to  send. 

At  first,  only  strong  laboring  men  came  over 
here  from  Italy,  men  who  could  earn  money  to 
send  back  to  their  wives;  and  they  were  urged  to 
return  every  two  years  to  cement  family  ties.  No 
restriction  was  placed  on  the  migration  to  America 
of  the  less  valuable  elements  in  Italy,  and  there  is 
good  reason  for  believing  that  the  best  elements 
were  in  various  ways  urged  to  stay  at  home.  So 
Italy  did  a  little  selecting,  and  on  the  whole 
America  would  be  better  off  (to  put  it  mildly)  if 
Italy  had  not  selected  in  just  the  way  she  did. 

An  error  into  which  some  students  have  fallen 
in  judging  the  racial  quality  of  a  people  is  to  base 
their  judgment  on  the  representatives  of  that  peo- 
ple here  in  America.  Many  contemporary  judg- 
ments of  the  Italians  offer  excellent  examples  of 
this  fact.  If  we  were  to  judge  the  people  of  Italy 
by  the  Italians  in  the  city  of  New  Haven,  we 
should  say  that  there  must  be  six  times  as  much 
degeneracy  in  Italy  as  among  the  native-born 



stock  of  New  Haven.  This  is  far  from  true,  as  will 
be  evident  in  our  further  discussion. 

Like  Italy,  the  other  European  nations  have 
done  considerable  dumping  of  their  less  valuable 
population,  with  the  very  happy  result — for  them 
— that  they  have  fewer  problems  of  degeneracy 
than  we  have.  Why  wouldn't  they?  A  few  years 
ago  I  arranged  a  series  of  illustrated  lectures  to 
be  given  here  by  the  Norwegian  biologist,  Dr.  Jon 
Alfred  Mjoen,  an  honest  man  and  one  of  the  few 
Europeans  I  have  ever  heard  on  the  subject  who 
told  the  facts  candidly.  He  had  half  a  dozen  pic- 
tures of  the  most  disreputable-looking  tramps 
imaginable,  and  while  they  were  being  put  on  the 
screen  he  said  not  a  word.  But  after  they  had  all 
been  shown  he  shocked  his  audience  by  saying: 
"America  has  used  Norway  very  badly,  through  the 
more  rigid  immigration  laws  which  your  Congress 
has  passed.  We  cannot  now  send  people  like  this 
to  America  any  more ;  we  shall  have  to  arrange  to 
take  care  of  them  ourselves!" 

I  could  recount  one  tale  after  another  of  assisted 
emigration  from  European  countries.  Jurists, 
knowing  full  well  the  expense  to  their  country  of 
maintaining  criminals,  have  often  helped  criminals 
get  to  America.  Here  is  how  this  has  been  done 
repeatedly  in  England  and  Germany:  A  man  is 



tried  and  convicted  by  the  jury,  but  the  wise  judge 
says  (in  effect)  to  the  prisoner,  who  has  been  al- 
lowed to  post  a  small  bail  bond,  "I  shall  pass  sen- 
tence upon  you  two  weeks  from  Friday,  and  it  will 
probably  mean  that  you  will  go  to  jail  for  five 
years."  Now  what  has  resulted  is  simply  that  the 
man  gathers  some  money  from  his  friends  and 
jumps  his  small  bail;  then,  instead  of  going  to 
prison  he  goes  to  America,  the  land  of  the  free. 

Though  such  practices  are  now  happily  of  the 
past,  they  do  explain  where  many  of  our  traits  of 
criminality  have  come  from.  The  fact  that  Eu- 
rope has  dumped  so  much  of  her  expensive  and 
unwanted  human  debris  on  our  shores  certainly 
accounts  for  most  of  the  seedstock  from  which  our 
lower  types  of  degeneracy  have  sprung. 

The  subject  cannot  be  left  without  a  further 
comment  on  "country  slums."  Most  city  people 
seem  to  think  that  human  beings  may  not  be 
thought  of  as  "slum-dwellers"  unless  they  are 
herded  together.  But,  as  we  have  seen,  a  slum  is 
made  by  the  people  who  live  in  it.  This  ties  up 
with  any  estimate  we  try  to  make  of  the  source  of 
degeneracy.  We  who  live  in  sections  of  the  United 
States  where  the  winters  are  cold  are  likely  to  think 
that  we  have  more  degeneracy  than  the  South  has ; 
but  this  is  far  from  being  certain.  Rather,  it  is 



our  cold  weather  that  drives  more  low-grade  peo- 
ple to  ask  for  help.  One  outstanding  trait  of  the 
low-grade  mind  is  its  inability  to  look  ahead. 
True,  the  low-grade  city-dweller  may  sometimes 
prosper,  for  in  the  city,  where  everybody  is  saving 
his  money  and  advice  is  plentiful,  a  stupid  person 
may  get  help  from  such  people  as  trustworthy  bank 
employees  who  will  advise  him  to  save  his  money. 
The  mere  ability  to  save  is  therefore  no  longer  any 
criterion  of  mental  status.  By  living  on  a  very 
low  plane  and  taking  his  earnings  to  the  bank,  a 
low-grade  person  may  accumulate  respectable 

But  this  is  not  true  in  country  areas.  Here  the 
low-grade  person  has  little  chance  to  earn  much, 
and  in  general,  because  everybody  else  is  trying 
hard  to  work  his  own  land,  the  yokel  works  his  too 
and  thus  gets  enough  to  eat  during  the  summer.  In 
most  cases  he  may,  it  is  true,  neglect  to  provide  for 
the  winter ;  but  when  winter  comes,  if  he  lives  in  a 
warm  climate  he  needs  no  fire  and  in  normal  times 
can  get  a  living.  The  public  authorities  do  not  see 
much  of  him  and  his  youngsters,  and  so  go  on 
believing  that  they  haven't  any  serious  poverty 
problem.  On  the  other  hand,  foresight  is  needed 
to  get  through  the  Northern  winter.  Then  the 
country  slum-dweller  more  often  comes  to  the  at- 



tention  of  the  public  authorities.  With  summer 
he  is  able  again  to  go  forth  and  scratch  the  ground, 
sow  a  few  seeds,  chop  a  little  wood  for  the  fire,  and 
impregnate  his  wife.  Everything  is  fine  then,  and 
nobody  has  much  trouble  with  him  until  the  next 
winter.  Our  more  progressive  States  are  now  mak- 
ing provision  for  maintaining  more  of  these  un- 
fortunates, but  at  best  this  is  only  a  beginning, 
though  many  of  the  officials  continually  assure  the 
public  that  everybody  is  cared  for.  In  a  Connecti- 
cut institution  for  feeble-minded  children,  for 
example,  there  are  1,000  beds — and  unfilled  ap- 
plications for  1,000  more.  Meanwhile  the  mothers 
of  these  feeble-minded  children  are  still  reproduc- 
ing; last  year  they  bore  no  more  children.  Not 
all  of  these  children  will  live,  of  course,  but  enough 
of  them  will  to  assure  the  State  of  Connecticut  of 
an  increasing  demand  for  beds  just  as  long  as  this 
breeding  from  the  bottom  continues. 

We  have  now  seen  enough,  undoubtedly,  to 
summarize.  Degeneracy  entered  this  country 
originally  with  undesirables  either  assisted  out  of 
their  own  countries  or  emigrating  voluntarily. 
These  had  certain  latent,  and  sometimes  apparent, 
characteristics  that  were  inheritable.  The  latent 
characteristics  cropped  out  as  latent  characteristics 
will,  or  else,  sometimes,  passed  in  the  latent  state 



from  generation  to  generation  to  emerge  eventually 
through  the  marriage  of  similar  types.  A  small 
amount  of  our  present  degeneracy  is  perhaps  to  be 
accounted  for  in  some  other  way — by  racial  inter- 
marriage, by  environmental  differences  between 
the  Old  country  and  the  New,  or  by  mutations, 
those  cases  of  apparently  spontaneous  appearance 
of  some  new  physical  character.  But  of  all  such  it 
may  be  said  either  that  we  know  too  little  about 
them  as  yet  to  give  them  much  weight,  or  that  they 
are  relatively  small  factors,  or  that  they  are  rare. 
We  need,  in  truth,  no  other  explanation  for  by  far 
the  largest  part  of  our  degeneracy  than  unre- 
stricted immigration  and  the  inherited  character- 
istics of  the  undesirables  who  have  been  admitted 
under  that  policy. 





If  the  latent  and  the  apparent  traits  of  degen- 
eracy came  to  America  through  immigration  and 
have  been  perpetuated  here  ever  since,  it  seems  to 
me  that  we  ought  to  know  something  of  the  ge- 
netic reasons  for  the  situation.  Most  of  us  are 
familiar  with  that  great  study  of  human  de- 
generacy by  R.  L.  Dugdale  *  which  contrasted  the 
so-called  "Jukes"  family  with  the  historic  Ed- 
wards family.  Studies  have  also  been  made  of 
other  great  tribes  of  degenerates  like  the  Jukes, 
most  of  them  living  in  country  slums.  Studies  of 
certain  high-grade  families  like  the  Edwards  and 
the  Darwins  show  that  such  families  have  pro- 
duced practically  none  but  excellent  members. 
Why  should  there  be  such  a  difference  between 
family  strains? 

Before  we  undertake  to  ascertain  the  answer  we 
must  consider  one  very  important  question,  a  ques- 
tion to  which  too  little  thought  has  been  devoted. 

1  The  Jukes,  New  York,  1877. 



How  many  children  are  required  if  a  family  or  a 
group  of  families  is  to  be  perpetuated?  We  must 
be  able  to  answer  this  question  before  we  can  say 
whether  a  given  class  of  people  is  increasing  or 

Several  methods  have  been  proposed  for  de- 
termining the  point.  One  of  these  methods  was 
followed  by  Professor  Ellsworth  Huntington  and 
the  writer  in  preparing  the  book  called  The  Build- 
ers of  America?  and  I  should  like  to  describe  it 
here.  First  of  all  we  settled  on  an  arbitrary  num- 
ber of  boys  and  girls  at  birth — 100  of  each — who 
would  some  day  constitute  a  theoretical  inter- 
marrying group.  Then  we  said:  "Suppose  that 
all  of  these  children  grow  to  maturity,  suppose  they 
all  marry,  and  suppose  they  all  have  children; 
how  many  children  would  it  require  to  replace 
the  group  in  the  third  generation?"  Offhand  one 
would  guess  that  if  they  had  200  children,  no  more 
would  be  necessary.  But  as  a  matter  of  fact,  that 
assumption  would  be  wrong. 

In  the  first  place,  abundant  figures  indicate  that 
there  are  106  boys  born  for  every  100  girls;  so  it 
would  be  necessary  for  our  200  to  have  206  chil- 
dren to  perpetuate  themselves.  But  we  know  that 

2  Ellsworth  Huntington  and  Leon  F.  Whitney,  The  Builders 
of  America,  New  York,  1927. 



these  children  will  not  all  live  to  maturity,  will 
not  all  marry,  and  will  not  all  have  children  even 
if  they  do  marry.  So  it  behooves  us  to  discover 
from  mortality  statistics  just  what  proportion  of 
them  will  live  to  be  (say)  24,  the  age  at  which  a 
majority  of  persons  marry.  We  discovered  that 
only  85%  will  live  to  be  that  old,  which  brings  our 
206  up  to  242. 

Next  we  had  to  find  out  how  many  of  those  who 
did  live  to  be  24  actually  would  marry.  Eighty 
percent  is  the  figure  that  records  show  to  be  cor- 
rect. This  means,  then,  that  the  242  has  risen  to 
303,  to  get  100  married  couples  in  the  second  gen- 

Lastly,  we  had  to  discover  what  proportion  of 
those  who  did  marry  would  have  children.  In 
investigating  large  groups  we  found  that  85% 
would  become  parents.  And  that  brought  our 
original  200  up  to  356.  That  is,  356  children  would 
be  required  in  the  second  generation  in  order  to 
guarantee  100  married  couples  likely  to  have  chil- 
dren. Reducing  this  to  the  individual  couple,  we 
determined  that  it  requires  4  children  per  couple 
to  perpetuate  a  family.  The  average  for  large 
groups,  of  course,  is  3.56  children  per  couple.  So 
we  see  that  any  group  of  people  that  is  having 
larger  families  than  3%  children  is  increasing; 


while  those  who  are  having  smaller  families  are 

In  passing,  let  us  investigate  the  size  of  the 
families  of  the  superior  element  in  the  population. 
This  obviously  has  a  decided  bearing  on  our  prob- 
lem, for  it  is  the  superior  elements  that  support 
the  inferior  as  the  generations  advance,  and  if  more 
and  more  of  the  inferior  come  to  depend  upon 
fewer  and  fewer  of  the  superior — which  is  what 
we  mean  by  a  dysgenic  birth-rate — plainly  the  out- 
look is  grave. 

Suppose  we  consider  certain  groups  of  statistics 
to  find  our  answer.  We  know  the  birth-rates  of 

(a)  many  of  the  great  groups  of  college  graduates, 

(b)  the  persons  listed  in  "Who's  Who  in  America," 
and    (c)    the   men   listed   in   American   Men   of 
Science;  and,  generally  speaking,  these  are  supe- 
rior men  and  women.1    Examining  "Who's  Who" 
we  find  that  the  average  number  of  children  for  all 
the  married  men  listed  is  2.8,  while  for  the  mar- 
ried women  the  figure  is  2.33.    The  married  scien- 

1  "Who's  Who"  is  not  to  be  taken  as  representing  the  most 
gifted  in  America.  The  book  itself  says,  "Not  the  best,  but  the 
best  known."  When,  however,  we  make  studies  of  people 
we  are  necessarily  limited  in  our  available  material  to  groups 
listed  in  such  a  form  that  they  may  be  studied.  Neither  "Who's 
Who"  nor  American  Men  of  Science  represents  the  cream  of 
our  population;  they  are  taken  merely  as  furnishing  a  good 
cross-section  of  successful  and  intelligent  Americans. 



tists  listed  in  American  Men  of  Science  average 
2.2  children. 

Taking  all  the  available  figures  on  college  grad- 
uates old  enough  to  have  completed  their  reproduc- 
tive period,  we  find  that  they  produce  families 
averaging  1.75  children;  the  figure  rising  to 
slightly  over  2.  if  we  limit  our  reckoning  to  mar- 
ried ones.  As  for  graduates  of  women's  colleges, 
if  we  take  the  entire  group  (married  and  unmar- 
ried) as  a  basis  of  figuring,  we  find  that  it  has  pro- 
duced only  about  1.25  children  per  graduate.  So 
many  of  the  graduates  are  unmarried  that  if  we 
assign  the  credit  where  it  belongs  (i.e.,  to  the  mar- 
ried ones),  the  figure  becomes  almost  2.  The 
figure  for  coeducational  institutions  is  somewhat 
better  than  the  others,  and  very  much  better  than 
that  for  the  women's  colleges. 

All  told,  it  is  obvious  that  the  average  will  come 
to  less  than  2.25  children  per  family  for  such  people 
a,s  we  can  scarcely  afford  to  lose  from  our  popula- 
tion; for  this  is  a  long  way  from  the  3.5  required 
to  perpetuate  a  family. 

Another  fact  to  consider  is  the  increase  in  the 
total  population.  It  has  been  reliably  estimated 
that  by  1950  or  perhaps  earlier  the  United  States 
will  have  a  stationary  population:  the  death-rate 
and  the  birth-rate  will  be  equal,  so  that  there  will 



be  no  further  increase  such  as  there  has  been  in  the 
past.  Now  1950  is  not  far  off — indeed  it  is  as  good 
as  here  now,  from  the  viewpoint  of  population  in- 
crease: the  death-rate  has  almost  caught  up  with 
the  birth-rate,  the  relative  difference  being  only 
6.9  per  thousand. 

We  now  have  some  important  facts  at  hand. 
The  country  is  having  practically  as  many  deaths 
as  births,  but  our  best  elements  are  not  producing 
nearly  enough  children  to  maintain  their  part  in 
the  population.  It  becomes  necessary  now  to  learn 
something  about  the  birth-rate  of  the  people  at  the 
bottom  of  the  social  scale  and  to  see  whether  this 
gives  us  anything  to  worry  over,  in  its  relation  to 
a  planned  society  and  to  the  problem  of  steriliza- 

Feeble-mindedness  in  the  race  affects  all  of  us, 
since  we  have  to  spend  vast  sums  in  taking  care  of 
the  lower  grades  of  our  feeble-minded  people,  with 
the  realization  that  the  thousands  of  them  who  are 
free  in  our  population,  and  are  reproducing,  will 
necessitate  our  spending  more  and  more.  We  can 
visit  the  institutions  where  some  of  them  are  segre- 
gated, and  see  for  ourselves  what  they  look  like; 
decide  whether  they  seem  good  social  animals,  the 
sort  that  will  build  up  our  civilization,  or  whether 
they  are  the  kind  to  tear  it  down;  ask  ourselves 



whether  we  should  like  to  have  our  descendants 
marry  such  as  these,  or  whether  for  their  own  good 
as  well  as  for  ours  it  would  not  be  better  if  they 
were  prevented  from  having  children. 

Certain  students  of  feeble-mindedness  have  tried 
to  convince  the  public  that  only  a  very  small 
amount  of  it  is  of  an  hereditary  nature.  Still 
others  have  admitted  that  a  good  deal  of  it  is,  but 
they  insist  that  there  is  very  little  that  we  can  do 
about  it.  Three  articles  in  The  Journal  of  Hered- 
ity *  have  been  the  basis  of  much  of  the  discussion 
of  this  question.  One  of  them  was  by  Edward  M. 
East,  the  second  by  R.  A.  Fisher,  and  the  third  by 
Leonard  Darwin.  All  were  based  not  on  facts 
but  on  an  assumption,  all  argued  about  a  very 
large  if.  Using  these  three  articles  as  a  founda- 
tion for  further  discussion,  Professor  H.  S.  Jennings 
starts  from  the  same  assumption:  that  feeble- 
mindedness is  determined  by  a  single  pair  of  genes; 
and  he  then  proceeds  to  speculate  on  how  long  it 
will  take  the  race  to  reduce  its  feeble-mindedness 
appreciably.2  His  arguments  might  be  convincing 
if  feeble-mindedness  were  the  result  of  marriages 
between  normal  persons  who  produce  feeble- 
minded children  occasionally;  but  the  assumption 

1Vols.  8  (1917)  and  18  (1927). 

2  The  Biological  Basis  of  Human  Nature,  New  York,  1930. 



is  not  borne  out  by  the  facts.  So  much  depends 
on  our  criterion  for  defining  a  "normal"  person. 
Are  we  to  call  anybody  normal  merely  because 
he  has  never  been  committed  to  an  institution? 
This  is  what  was  evidently  done  by  the  persons 
whose  studies  form  the  basis  of  the  assumption 
mentioned.  When  we  look  into  these  studies,  this 
is  what  we  find  to  be  the  criterion  used  to  prove 
that  feeble-mindedness  is  not  hereditary — i.e.,  that 
it  appears  as  often  among  children  of  normal  stock 
as  it  does  among  those  of  feeble-minded  parents : 
a  research  worker  is  sent  to  an  institution,  where 
he  examines  the  cards  of  the  inmates,  cards  de- 
scribing the  parents  among  other  things.  When  a 
card  shows  that  the  inmate  is  feeble-minded  but 
that  neither  his  father  nor  his  mother  has  been  an 
inmate  of  such  an  institution,  the  parents  are  re- 
corded by  the  research  worker  as  normal — not 
"doubtful"  even,  but  normal.  I  myself  have  seen 
a  study  carried  out  in  this  way,  its  evident  cri- 
terion being  merely  whether  or  not  the  parents 
have  ever  been  committed  as  feeble-minded;  if 
they  haven't,  then  they  are  "normal." 

Such  undiscriminating  ambiguity  as  this,  which 
reduces  the  value  of  the  findings  considerably,  is 
attributable  to  the  lack  of  thoroughness  with  which 
the  investigators  were  obliged  to  work.  They  were 


handicapped  by  being  unable  to  go  out  into  the 
towns  and  give  mental  tests  to  these  children's 
parents,  so  they  had  to  judge  by  rule-of-thumb. 

In  the  course  of  time,  however,  Dr.  H.  H.  God- 
dard  issued  his  sound  and  valuable  study  of  the 
group  that  he  called  the  Kallikaks.  Many  of  the 
parents  and  the  children  of  this  Kallikak  group 
had  actually  been  inmates  of  the  institution  at  Vine- 
land,  N.  J.,  of  which  Dr.  Goddard  was  the 
superintendent;  and  his  findings  showed  that  the 
Kallikak  feeble-mindedness  was  to  a  very  large 
extent  inherited. 

In  spite  of  Dr.  Goddard's  study,  however,  those 
who  preferred  to  believe  that  it  is  not  inherited 
continued  to  make  their  own  studies  on  the  as- 
sumption that  unless  a  person  has  been  an  inmate 
of  an  institution  for  the  feeble-minded  he  is  to 
be  considered  normal;  the  corollary  being,  of 
course,  that  his  admittedly  feeble-minded  offspring 
have  been  produced  from  "normal"  parentage,  and 
that  the  defect  is  therefore  not  hereditary.  Then 
came  the  publication  of  the  Army  mental  tests, 
showing  plainly  how  overburdened  by  low-grade 
intelligences  our  country  is.  Where  did  all  these 
feeble-minded  persons  come  from,  students  began 
to  ask.  Was  it  indiscriminate  immigration  that 
had  introduced  so  many  minus  elements  into  our 


population?  Well,  undoubtedly  this  had  played 
an  important  part,  but  the  explanation  seemed  in- 
adequate. There  must  be  some  other. 

Let  us  look  at  the  proportion  of  feeble-minded- 
ness  in  our  population.  There  are  60,000  of  them 
in  public  institutions  in  the  United  States;  and 
there  are  at  least  300,000  more  who  ought  to  be 
in  such  institutions,  on  the  estimate  of  our  foremost 
students  of  the  subject.  Then  there  are  3,000,000 
other  quite  low-grade  persons  who  couldn't  pos- 
sibly get  through  the  grade  schools  unless  they 
were  led  through;  i.e.,  about  three  such  to  every 
hundred  persons  in  the  United  States.  Now  think 
through  your  acquaintances  among  intelligent  peo- 
ple; could  you  find  three  feeble-minded  children 
among  every  hundred  normal  parents  whom  you 
know?  I  doubt  it.  Even  if  you  were  to  take  in 
mental  grades  up  to  say  eleven — the  moron  grade 
— it  is  doubtful  whether  you  could  pick  out  three 
who  have  come  from  every  hundred  of  your 
friends.  It  is,  then,  reasonable  to  conclude  (as  did 
the  Journal  of  Heredity  writers)  that  feeble- 
minded persons  spring  preponderantly  from  nor- 
mal persons? 

A  visit  to  one  of  these  institutions  for  the  feeble- 
minded offers  many  suggestive  experiences.  On 
all  such  visits  that  I  myself  make  I  ask  certain 


questions  of  the  doctors  whose  duty  it  is  to  inter- 
view the  parents  of  the  inmates,  especially  the 
question  whether  they  consider  all  these  parents  to 
be  "normal."  Their  common  reaction  is  astonish- 
ment, and  they  have  told  me  that  a  high  percentage 
of  the  parents  are  decidedly  subnormal,  though 
perhaps  not  so  low  in  grade  as  the  children.  Sev- 
eral of  the  doctors  have  spoken  of  the  fact  that 
usually,  if  one  of  the  parents  is  of  low  grade,  this 
one  comes  less  often  than  does  the  higher-grade 
parent  to  visit  the  child.  In  other  words,  the  mere 
fact  that  the  parents  have  not  actually  been  insti- 
tutional subjects  is  no  indication  of  the  level  of 
their  intelligence. 

The  story  is  the  same  if  we  visit,  instead,  our 
grade  schools  for  subnormals.  Some  years  ago 
the  school  authorities  of  several  of  our  American 
cities  came  to  think  it  profitable  to  classify  pupils 
according  to  their  intelligence.  The  theory  was 
that  every  pupil  must  be  educated  to  do  something, 
though  not  all  of  them  had  equal  capacities;  a  good 
many,  that  is,  could  not  be  got  through  the  grades, 
yet  it  was  possible  that  these  had  a  certain  sort 
of  intelligence  which  might  enable  them  to  become 
useful  citizens.  Accordingly,  special  schools  were 
provided  for  these  subnormals.  Pupils  who,  in 
the  classes  for  normal  children,  appear  to  be  ex- 



tremely  backward,  are  examined  by  trained  psy- 
chologists and,  if  found  to  be  subnormal,  are  given 
a  manual  education  in  the  special  schools. 

In  New  Haven  from  1819  to  1929  five  thousand 
pupils  were  educated  in  these  special  schools,  and 
the  number  would  be  even  larger  if  the  buildings 
had  been  adequate  during  the  early  years  of  the 
movement.  This  means  that  out  of  a  total  popula- 
tion of  160,000,  there  have  been  5,000  between  the 
ages  of  eight  and  fourteen  who  were  subnormal,  a 
large  proportion  being  of  foreign-born  and  Negro 

I  have  visited  these  schools,  putting  again  the 
question  I  put  to  the  authorities  in  the  institutions 
for  feeble-minded:  "How  many  normal  parents 
do  you  have  coming  to  this  school  to  visit  their 
feeble-minded  children?"  And  the  usual  reply  is, 
"Very  few  indeed."  This  testimony  here  is  that 
subnormal  children  come  from  subnormal  parent- 
age, not  from  normal.  To  the  authorities  this 
seems  so  safe  a  generalization  that  it  is  possible 
to  predict  with  reasonable  certainty,  when  one 
child  comes  to  the  school  and  the  records  indicate 
that  there  are  younger  children  at  home,  that  most 
of  the  others  in  the  family  will  follow.  Some 
records  I  have  studied  show  that  six,  eight,  or  even 
ten  children  from  one  family  have  attended  the 



same  school.  It  is  of  interest,  moreover,  to  note — 
though  the  fact  is  not  relevant  to  our  discussion — 
that  the  subnormal  parents  were  in  some  cases 
comparatively  well  off,  one  father  owning  five 
apartment  houses,  though  all  his  children  went  to 
the  school  for  subnormals. 

No,  I  cannot  place  any  faith,  on  the  basis  of  all 
the  evidence  I  have  been  able  to  collect,  in  the 
theory  that  feeble-mindedness  is  a  simple  Men- 
delian  problem,  a  trait  produced  by  a  single  pair 
of  recessive  genes — in  other  words,  not  inherited 
from  a  line  of  feeble-mindedness.  There  is  no 
case  known  in  which  a  pair  of  feeble-minded 
parents,  themselves  the  offspring  of  feeble-minded, 
have  produced  a  normal  child ;  nor  is  there,  to  my 
knowledge,  any  record  of  any  pair  of  feeble- 
minded persons  who  have  come  from  normal 
parents  and  who  have  married  and  produced  nor- 
mal offspring,  since  when  such  persons  are  born 
of  normal  parents  the  latter  see  to  it  that  their 
offspring  do  not  marry. 

I  have  written  no  case  and  no  record,  but  my 
negative  applies  only  to  researches  in  our  own 
country.  I  do  know  of  one  exception,  and  the  case 
is  a  rare  type  of  feeble-mindedness  that  may,  it 
appears,  spring  from  a  single  pair  of  recessive 
genes.  The  Swedish  investigator  Torsten  Sjogren 


found  two  types  of  amaurotic  idiocy  in  an  isolated 
valley  in  Sweden.  This  is  a  rare  mental  defect 
associated  with  progressive  blindness  and  paraly- 
sis. He  found  that  both  forms  were  undoubtedly 
transmitted  by  "carriers" — persons  who  themselves 
are  normal  but  who  may  pass  a  defect  through 
to  another  generation.  If  it  is  this  exceptional 
kind  of  subnormality  that  the  Journal  of  Heredity 
writers  were  using  as  a  basis  for  their  assumption, 
it  is  far  too  slender  a  basis,  since  this  is  not  the  type 
of  feeble-mindedness  that  is  giving  humanity  so 
much  concern  to-day,  especially  in  our  country. 

As  regards  the  inheritance  of  insanity,  we  know 
less  than  we  do  about  the  inheritance  of  feeble- 
mindedness. As  our  knowledge  grows,  we  shall 
very  likely  agree  that  environment  and  heredity 
working  together  account  for  mental  disease,  and 
that  in  certain  specific  forms  one  exerts  more  in- 
fluence than  the  other  does.  Already  we  have  such 
studies  as  that  made  by  Kraepelin,  who  tells  us 
that  an  investigation  of  his  patients  in  Heidelberg 
disclosed  the  fact  that,  in  80%  of  the  cases  of 
manic-depressive  insanity,  heredity  was  the  pre- 
disposing factor;  while  in  an  investigation  of  1,000 
cases  of  dementia  praecox  he  found  hereditary  ab- 
normalities in  53.8%  of  the  cases. 

Likewise  Siimner,  investigating  hereditary  in- 


fluences  in  manic-depressive  insanity,  found  heredi- 
tary taint  in  84%  of  a  series  of  650  cases.  Others 
have  made  similar  investigations  and  found  a 
smaller  percentage,  and  yet  others  have  come  to  the 
conclusion  that  the  percentage  is  higher. 

We  have  not  considered  epilepsy  and  its  mode 
of  inheritance.  Ten  years  ago  we  were  much  more 
certain  about  its  cause  than  we  are  to-day.  That 
some  forms  of  it  are  hereditary  is  not  denied,  but 
to  lay  the  blame  for  all  epilepsy  on  heredity  is 
now  no  longer  the  practice.  Myoclonus  epilepsy, 
a  rare  form,  is  transmitted  as  a  simple  Mendelian 
recessive.  Perhaps  other  forms  are,  too.  Time 
alone  will  tell. 

Right  here,  at  any  rate,  a  word  of  warning  is 
in  order  to  those  who  can  find  heredity  responsible 
for  all  degeneracy.  It  would  not  be  at  all  difficult 
to  prove  that  the  tendency  to  automobile  accidents 
runs  in  families :  all  that  we  should  need  to  do  is 
to  assemble  as  many  records  as  possible  of  cases 
where  a  number  of  representatives  of  the  same 
family  were  killed  in  automobile  accidents,  and 
we  should  have  proved  our  case — yes,  proved  it  in 
the  same  way  that  a  lawyer  proves  his,  but  not 
in  the  way  a  scientist  proves  a  fact. 

Much  of  the  early  work  on  the  inheritance  of 
epilepsy  was  done  in  this  way.  There  was  epilep- 


tic  Johnny.  There  was  his  Aunt  Hannah,  also  epi- 
leptic, and  there  was  perhaps  Cousin  Nellie. 
These  stood  out  in  his  pedigree,  showing  that  his 
epilepsy  was  probably  hereditary.  That  kind  of 
thing  was  a  simple  matter  to  study.  But  could 
we  turn  the  picture  around  and,  on  the  basis  of 
what  we  knew  about  the  pedigree,  predict  before 
Johnny's  birth  that  he  was  going  to  be  epileptic? 
No,  we  could  not. 

We  have  to  assemble  large  numbers  of  cases  and 
determine  whether,  on  the  basis  of  them,  a  definite 
percentage  is  found  which  indicates  the  inherit- 
ability  of  the  trait.  Studies  made  in  this  way  do 
not  indicate  that  epilepsy  in  all  its  forms  is  in- 
herited; but  they  do  show  that  there  is  a  greater 
chance  for  children  to  be  born  with  the  deficiency 
where  there  are  cases  of  it  in  the  families  than  there 
is  for  them  to  have  epilepsy  where  there  is  no 
family  history  of  it  in  their  antecedents. 

In  the  case  of  mental  disease,  as  well  as  mental 
defect  (feeble-mindedness),  we  frequently  find 
that  the  trait  itself  is  not  transmitted,  but  that  some 
other  trait  akin  to  it  is  passed  on,  almost  as  though 
one  characteristic  had  the  ability  to  become  trans- 
muted into  another.  For  example  it  is  not  at  all 
uncommon  to  find  a  family  with  a  number  of 
feeble-minded  children,  and  a  parent  who  is  epi- 



leptic.  In  mental  disease,  we  would  do  better 
oftentimes  to  think  of  it  as  the  interaction  of 
heredity  and  environment,  and  consider  that  the 
predisposition  rather  than  the  disease  is  inherited. 
But  whichever  is  inherited — predisposition  or  dis- 
ease— is  it  not  better  to  weed  out  the  types  of  minds 
that  have  low  breaking-points,  and  encourage  the 
types  that  can  stand  all  kinds  of  mental  strain  with- 
out succumbing? 

Our  final  consideration  is  the  rate  at  which  the 
subnormal  group  is  reproducing.  If  as  a  group 
the  feeble-minded  are  having  more  than  3.5  chil- 
dren to  a  family,  they  are  increasing;  if  less,  they 
are  decreasing.  One  American  figure  and  one 
English  may  serve  to  answer  this  question.  In 
my  New  Haven  study  I  found  the  average  to  be 
7.1  children,  which  means  (as  shown  by  our  figures 
of  survival  averages  on  page  107)  that  the  group 
is  practically  doubling  with  each  generation. 

Dr.  A.  F.  Tredgold,  the  celebrated  English  ex- 
pert on  the  Royal  Commission  on  the  Feeble- 
minded, says : 

I  have  pointed  out  over  and  over  again 
that  whilst  the  average  born  in  a  family 
throughout  the  whole  community  is  four, 
the  average  in  these  degenerate  stocks  is 



seven  [the  same  as  found  in  the  New 
Haven  study],  and  there  is  not  the  slight- 
est doubt  that  a  very  large  proportion  of 
the  progeny  will  go  to  swell  the  ranks  of 
the  socially  inefficient.1 

To  sum  up,  these  facts  are  important  in  any 
study  of  the  desirability  of  sterilization  for  the 
feeble-minded:  that  those  who  are  in  institutions 
and  are  likely  to  remain  there  need  not  be  steri- 
lized since  they  are  not  free  to  reproduce;  that 
any  who  are  likely  to  be  released  either  tempo- 
rarily or  permanently  ought  to  be  sterilized  to  pre- 
vent their  continuing  their  kind ;  that  the  number 
of  feeble-minded  is  increasing;  that  the  mere  fact 
that  a  person  has  not  been  an  inmate  of  an  institu- 
tion for  the  feeble-minded  is  no  proof  that  he  may 
be  considered  "normal";  that  there  is,  outside  of 
our  institutions,  a  vast  reservoir,  somewhere,  which 
is  at  present  turning  out  feeble-minded  persons. 
This  reservoir  is  our  borderline  group,  consisting 
of  many  millions  of  individuals.  They  are  the  chief 
producers  not  only  of  their  own  type,  but  of  the 
lower  grades  as  well. 

1  Mental  Deficiency,  4th  Ed.,  London,  1922,  pp.  14-15. 






More  than  16,000  persons  have  been  sterilized 
in  our  public  institutions  since  the  practice  first 
became  authorized  by  law.  Sterilization  for  other 
than  eugenic  reasons,  however,  had  been  in  use  in 
various  parts  of  the  world  for  thousands  of  years 
before  that  time.  In  the  Near  East  and  elsewhere 
men  have  been  rendered  sterile  in  order  to  make 
them  safe  to  have  about  the  court  and  the  mon- 
arch's wives,  or  to  render  them  docile  as  slaves, 
or  to  prevent  racial  amalgamation.  The  first  to 
be  sterilized  were  the  eunuchs,  the  method  being 
castration.  Similarly,  the  male  members  of  cap- 
tive tribes  were  castrated  on  becoming  slaves,  and 
their  women  bore  children  to  the  conqueror. 
The  difference  between  the  thought  that  caused 
these  early  sterilizations  and  the  modern  theory  is 
marked.  The  early  ones  were  made  wholly  for  the 
exploitation  of  human  beings  by  their  fellow  men. 
The  modern  ones  are  performed  with  due  regard 
for  human  rights  and  for  the  betterment  of  the 
human  race. 


In  the  United  States,  before  the  period  of  agita- 
tion for  State  laws,  a  number  of  far-sighted  per- 
sons were  urging  castration  as  a  sterilizing 
procedure.  To-day,  though  we  may  credit  them 
with  vision,  we  cannot  praise  their  choice  of 
method.  For  instance  we  find,  in  1898,  the  trus- 
tees of  the  Kansas  State  Institution  for  Feeble- 
minded Children  approving  by  resolution  the  work 
of  Dr.  F.  Hoyt  Pilcher  of  that  institution,  who  had 
castrated  forty-four  boys  and  fourteen  girls  over 
a  period  of  years.  Public  opinion  took  sides  in  the 
controversy  that  followed,  and  the  practice  was 
stopped.  In  1897  the  State  of  Pennsylvania  was 
debating  the  subject  at  the  instance  of  Dr.  Martin 
W.  Barr;  so  was  Massachusetts,  led  by  its  pioneer 
in  the  care  of  epileptics,  Dr.  Everett  Flood.  But 
a  Texas  physician,  Dr.  F.  E.  Daniel,  had  some- 
what anticipated  these  men  by  publishing  in  1893 
a  long  article  entitled  "Should  insane  criminals  or 
sexual  perverts  be  allowed  to  procreate?"  From 
1899  onward  for  some  eight  years  Dr.  H.  C.  Sharp 
of  Indiana  sterilized  patients  who  were  "guests  of 
the  State."  In  1905  the  Pennsylvania  legislature 
passed  the  first  law,  but  the  governor  vetoed  it. 
Indiana  led  in  the  first  actual  passage  of  a  law,  in 
1907.  By  191 1,  when  the  Indiana  governor  threat- 
ened to  cancel  the  appropriation  of  any  State  in- 


stitution  that  adopted  the  legalized  practice,  873 
had  been  sterilized.  From  the  time  the  law  was 
passed  up  until  1925  only  120  vasectomies  were 
performed ;  for  some  reason  the  surgeons  got  wary 
about  operating  when  the  law  allowed  it,  though 
they  had  not  hesitated  when  it  didn't.  Twenty- 
seven  States  have,  from  1907  to  the  present  date, 
passed  valid  laws  authorizing  sterilization,  and 
others  will  undoubtedly  legislate  this  year.1 

The  Superintendent  of  the  Eugenics  Record  Of- 
fice, Dr.  Harry  H.  Laughlin,  has  been  of  the 
greatest  assistance  to  the  legislators  of  many  States. 
To  him  they  have  turned  for  information  in  their 
endeavors  to  get  sterilization  laws  enacted.  Dr. 
Laughlin  was  the  author  of  the  first  formal  book 
on  the  subject,  Eugenical  Sterilization  in  the 
United  States.  It  is  to  the  foresight  of  Chief  Jus- 
tice Harry  Olson  (who  established  the  Municipal 
Court  in  Chicago)  that  we  owe  the  publication  of 
this  epoch-making  book.  Judge  Olson  had  always 
been  interested  in  the  eugenics  movement  and  was 
for  some  years  a  director  of  the  American  Eugenics 
Society.  It  was  he  who  established  the  first  psychi- 
atric clinic  in  connection  with  any  court.  His 
backing  made  it  possible  for  the  work  to  be  pub- 

1  See  Appendix  C  for  table  showing  sterilization  figures  for 
the  States  having  laws. 



lished,  and  his  public  addresses  on  the  subject 
helped  the  book  to  succeed.  Though  now  out  of 
print,  the  book,  as  well  as  its  author,  has  had  a 
profound  influence.  Dr.  Laughlin's  correspond- 
ence with  interested  legislators  and  laymen  has 
been  voluminous.  In  1916  he  wrote  a  smaller 
work,  bringing  the  study  down  to  date.  Thou- 
sands of  copies  have  been  distributed  by  the 
American  Eugenics  Society  along  with  a  great  deal 
of  other  reading  matter  and  scientific  information 
to  all  who  asked  for  material. 

The  American  Eugenics  Society  has  never  in- 
itiated campaigns  for  the  enactment  of  such  legis- 
lation; it  has  been  too  busy  giving  help  to  the 
various  people  all  over  the  country  who  were  the 
willing  instigators  and  local  propagandists  in  their 
own  States.  I  emphasize  this  point  because  so  many 
persons  have  had  the  notion  that  extra-State  in- 
terests have  sometimes  interfered  to  exert  what 
these  critics  felt  to  be  a  diabolical  influence  on  the 
progress  of  the  movement.  Such,  however,  has 
never  been  the  case.  When  asked  to  do  so  by  in- 
terested people  who  were  willing  to  work,  the 
Society  has  sent  persons  to  testify,  and  has  for- 
warded booklets  such  as  The  Eugenics  Catechism 
and  Dr.  Laughlin's  work,  with  perhaps  a  pam- 
phlet or  two  dealing  with  related  subjects.  These 


would  be  distributed  by  interested  members  of  the 
legislature,  and  the  others  would  find  copies  on 
their  desks  when  they  took  their  seats  on  the  day 
when  the  case  for  sterilization  was  to  be  heard. 

So  much  for  beginnings.  The  next  step  forward 
was  taken  by  Mr.  E.  S.  Gosney,  a  well-known  Pa- 
cific Coast  attorney,  and  the  noted  biologist  Dr. 
Paul  Popenoe,  who  together  initiated  the  series 
of  studies  to  which  I  have  so  often  referred  in 
earlier  chapters.  The  material  they  gathered  was 
obtained  through  the  use  of  questionnaires  which 
the  authors  sent  out  to  California  physicians  and 
surgeons  known  to  be  in  touch  with  sterilized  pa- 
tients, and  of  other  questionnaires  sent  similarly 
by  the  superintendents  of  State  hospitals  for  the 
mentally  diseased  to  as  many  of  their  former  pa- 
tients as  could  be  reached.  Besides  these  avenues 
of  information,  the  Los  Angeles  Obstetrical  So- 
ciety, at  Mr.  Gosney's  instance,  undertook  an  in- 
vestigation of  sterilization  in  private  practice, 
involving  420  cases  of  the  sterilization  of  women. 
Finally,  a  good  deal  of  first-hand  information  was 
secured  through  field  workers  and  also  from  state- 
ments made  by  sterilized  patients  to  their  surgeons. 
Some  of  the  figures  that  emerged  from  these  studies 
have  been  cited  earlier  in  this  book.  The  resultant 
material  appeared  from  time  to  time  in  various 



scientific  journals,  and  reprints  were  sent  out  when 
requested.  Eventually  the  two  men  summarized 
their  findings  in  an  excellent  treatise  called  Steri- 
lization for  Human  Betterment?  which  has  had  a 
powerful  influence  on  the  progress  of  the  move- 

Up  until  1931  the  movement  was  promoted  by 
public-spirited  men  and  women  of  all  religious 
faiths ;  but  in  that  year  an  encyclical  of  the  Pope 
arrayed  the  Roman  Catholic  Church  against  it. 
This  attitude  is  of  course  regretted  by  all  those 
who  are  advocating  the  benefits  that  sterilization 
will  bring  to  society;  yet  they  know  that  the  cause 
is  a  noble  one,  supported  by  the  soundest  scientific 
principles  as  well  as  by  the  highest  ethical  consid- 
erations, and  they  believe  that  when  it  is  correctly 
understood  it  cannot  fail  to  appeal  to  every  in- 
telligent, sensible,  and  forward-looking  person  in 
the  community. 

Practically  all  of  the  Jews  with  whom  I  have 
discussed  sterilization  have  been  in  favor  of  it. 
This  includes  many  eminent  rabbis,  but  they  also 
are  liberals.  It  is  doubtful,  however,  whether  the 
orthodox  Jew  will  align  himself  with  those  who 
favor  the  practice;  a  few  of  them  have  recently 
publicly  opposed  it.  According  to  my  friend,  Dr. 

1  New  York,  1929. 



David  de  Sola  Pool,  upon  whom  I  have  relied  for 
much  information  regarding  the  ancient  teachings 
of  the  race,  the  orthodox  Jewish  rabbinate  is  the 
official  interpreter  of  Jewish  traditions  and  it 
would  be  indeed  difficult  to  obtain  its  favor  for 
sterilization.  This,  he  shows,  is  the  reason :  vasec- 
tomy  is  one  of  the  three  methods  of  sterilization 
forbidden  in  the  official  Jewish  legal  code,  the 
Shulchan  Aruch. 

Says  Rabbi  Pool,  "The  oldest  interpreter  of  the 
Bible  leaves  no  doubt  as  to  this.  In  Josephus  An- 
tiquities IV,  8,  40,  in  the  summary  of  the  Laws  of 
Moses  it  is  written,  'Let  those  who  have  made 
themselves  eunuchs  be  held  in  detestation;  avoid 
the  company  of  those  who  have  deprived  them- 
selves of  their  manhood,  and  of  that  fruit  of 
generation  which  God  has  given  to  men  for  the  in- 
crease of  our  kind.  Let  such  be  driven  away,  as  if 
they  had  killed  their  children,  since  they  have 
destroyed  beforehand  what  would  procure  them. 
For  evident  it  is  that  while  their  soul  has  become 
effeminate  they  have  also  transfused  that  effemi- 
nacy to  their  body.  In  like  manner  do  you  treat 
all  that  is  of  monstrous  nature  when  it  is  looked 
on ;  nor  is  it  lawful  to  geld  either  men  or  any  other 
animals.'  Surely  a  clear  and  emphatic  enough 
statement  of  the  case. 


"The  rabbinical  elaboration  of  this  fundamental 
Biblical  prohibition  is  as  follows :  'One  who  is  con- 
genitally  sterile  is  not  forbidden  to  marry,  but  one 
who  has  been  made  sterile,  whether  through  opera- 
tion or  accident,  is  so  forbidden. 

"  '  It  is  forbidden  to  give  any  man  or  any  animal 
any  drug  which  will  sterilize,  but  it  may  be  given 
to  a  woman  on  the  authority  of  a  physician.  [Tal- 
mud Sabbath  III.]'" 

So  it  would  seem  that  even  the  orthodox  Jew  may 
favor  female  sterilization,  but  not  male.  Here  is 
a  very  commendable  thing  about  the  Jews:  they 
look  upon  their  laws  as  applying  to  Jews  alone. 
Their  religious  laws,  moreover,  where  public 
health  is  concerned,  have  been  in  accord  with  scien- 
tific principles.  Rabbi  Pool  says,  "While  the  Jew- 
ish law  does  not  allow  the  Jew  to  make  a  capon, 
it  has  no  objection  to  a  Gentile  doing  this.  The 
same  principle,  it  seems  to  me,  would  apply  to 
whether  a  Jew  would  object  to  others  availing 
themselves  of  sterilization." 

Another  obstacle  in  the  way  of  progressive  legis- 
lation on  the  subject  is  the  attitude  too  often  as- 
sumed by  the  legislators  themselves.  As  with 
birth-control  laws  and  others  of  the  kind  whose 
object  is  the  betterment  of  the  race,  so  our  pro- 



jected  laws  for  authorizing  sterilization  are  too 
commonly    debated    emotionally    or    politically 
rather  than  in  a  spirit  of  objective  inquiry.     I 
myself  have  attended  so  many  such  hearings  on 
these  measures  that  I  have  almost  given  up  hoping 
that  they  are  ever  likely  to  be  considered  on  their 
merits.    As  every  observer  knows,  too  many  of  our 
legislators  to-day  approach  the   business   before 
them  in  the  light  of  its  potential  influence  on  votes. 
The  same  thing  applies  to  getting  such  laws  ad- 
ministered when  once  they  are  enacted.    In  most 
cases  appointments  to  the  staffs  of  institutions  are 
political  appointments.    Then,  if  the  boss  gets  com- 
plaints that  a  number  of  his  voters  are  opposed 
to  the  administration  of  the  sterilization  law,  he 
quickly  passes  the  word  to  the  superintendents; 
and  superintendents  have  a  notable  faculty  for 
keeping  an  ear  to  the  ground.     Herein  probably 
lies  the  reason  why  some  of  our  existing  steriliza- 
tion laws  are  put  into  practice  so  little.    The  qual- 
ity of  statesmanship — i.e.,  the  power  of  envisaging 
the  true  worth  of  any  movement  to  improve  future 
generations — is  conspicuously  lacking  in  our  legis- 
lators and  our  administrators  alike,  as  regards  their 
attitude   toward   legalized   sterilization.     If  you 
doubt  this,  just  ask  any  of  the  more  intelligent  mem- 
bers of  your  State  legislature.    Until  public  opin- 



ion  is  so  thoroughly  roused  that  a  larger  bloc  of 
voters  demand  legislative  action,  and  administra- 
tive follow-up,  the  situation  is  likely  to  remain  as 
it  is  now. 

In  Canada  and  in  Europe  sterilizations  have 
been  fewer  than  in  our  country.  Until  a  year  ago 
only  one  Canadian  province  had  a  sterilization  law 
— that  in  Alberta;  but  in  April,  1933,  British  Co- 
lumbia passed  one,  and  judging  from  the  corre- 
spondence on  the  subject  that  has  been  passing 
between  these  two  and  the  other  provinces  it  will 
not  be  long  now  before  sterilization  will  be  effec- 
tive in  all  but  the  Roman  Catholic  provinces.  Al- 
berta has  sterilized  more  than  300  in  the  five  years 
since  its  law  was  enacted,  all  operations  being  on 
the  voluntary  basis. 

In  1907  Switzerland  sterilized  the  first  patients: 
two  women,  25  and  36  years  old  respectively,  and 
two  men  of  31  and  32.  All  these  were  castrated, 
and  they  were  subsequently,  with  one  exception, 
respectable  members  of  society;  one  of  the  men 
committed  petty  thefts,  but  his  sexual  offenses 
ceased.  The  work  has  gone  on  in  that  country  ever 
since,  with  modern  methods  in  use. 

Denmark  passed  a  law  in  1929,  under  which  54 
persons  have  been  sterilized,  all  by  castration — 
which  is  very  remarkable  in  view  of  the  fact  that 



this  type  of  operation  is  prohibited  by  the  existing 
penal  code  of  the  country. 

In  England  the  Eugenics  Society,  headed  by 
Major  Leonard  Darwin,  a  son  of  the  great  Charles, 
is  doing  excellent  work  in  bringing  home  to  the 
people  the  need  for  sterilization.  In  1930  the 
Society  sent  Mrs.  Cora  B.  S.  Hodson  to  our  coun- 
try to  make  a  study  of  the  subject  and  to  report  not 
only  to  England  but  to  Germany  and  other  coun- 
tries as  well.  She  made  an  exhaustive  inquiry, 
gave  many  lectures  which  were  heard  by  thousands 
of  Americans  from  coast  to  coast,  and  went  back 
home  full  of  information  and  enthusiasm.  As  this 
is  being  written,  England  has  had  a  "voluntary" 
law  introduced  for  legislative  action,  based  upon 
a  study  made  by  a  committee  of  scientists. 

The  latest  word  on  the  subject  has  come  from 
Germany.  Under  the  dictatorship  of  Adolph  Hit- 
ler, a  compulsory  law  has  been  passed  with  his 
approval.  I  have  had  considerable  correspondence 
with  certain  German  scientists  who  ever  since  the 
War  have  been  enthusiastic  advocates  of  steriliza- 
tion, and  I  am  informed  that  before  the  subject 
came  to  the  attention  of  the  present  authorities 
there  had  for  many  years  been  agitation  for  a  vol- 
untary law.  We  must  remember  that  Germany 
has  long  known  more  about  her  defectives  and  the 



nation's  health  in  general,  both  physical  and  men- 
tal, than  most  other  countries  do  about  theirs,  and 
that  she  has  been  twenty  years  ahead  of  the  United 
States  in  psychiatry  and  somewhat  ahead  of  us  in 
applied  psychology.  Much  of  our  best  informa- 
tion on  the  mind  has  come  from  Germany;  and 
even  before  the  War,  that  country  had  figures  on 
her  population  that  put  ours  to  shame.  To  realize 
how  much  attention  the  Germans  have  given  to  the 
study  of  heredity  for  many  years,  one  has  only  to 
look  over  the  remarkable  list  of  books  dealing  with 
the  inheritance  of  mental  and  physical  traits  that 
have  come  out  of  Germany.  While  we  were  pussy- 
footing around,  reluctant  to  admit  even  that  in- 
sanity of  certain  sorts  runs  in  families,  the 
Germans  were  calling  a  spade  a  spade.  True,  they 
did  export  a  few  pseudo-scientists  who  on  Ameri- 
can lecture  tours  told  our  people  that  there  is 
"nothing  to  heredity."  But  I  have  often  suspected 
that  their  real  reason  for  coming  over  was  that 
they  knew  they  would  find  less  opposition  here  to 
their  ideas  because  we  had,  relatively,  so  little 
knowledge  of  the  subject.  To-day  these  same  men 
are  not  enjoying  their  former  popularity  and  pres- 
tige among  us.  On  the  other  hand,  men  like  Kahn 
(now  of  Yale)  and  Kraepelin  were  and  are  capable 
leaders  who  spoke  plain  and  recognized  inherit- 



ance  when  they  saw  it;  and  these  men  especially 
have  exercised  an  undoubted  influence  on  the  atti- 
tude of  the  German  leaders  to-day. 

The  400,000  known  defectives  in  Germany  who 
become  subject  to  the  new  law  are  about  equally 
divided  into  men  and  women,  and  they  have  been 
listed  as  follows  in  the  official  inventory,  according 
to  the  Associated  Press  despatch  from  Berlin  at 
the  end  of  December,  1933.  The  law  applies  to 
hereditary  defects  as  follows : 

(1)  Feeble-mindedness,  tentatively  esti- 
mated at  200,000  persons 

(2)  Schizomania,  800,000 

(3)  Insanity,  200,000 

(4)  Epilepsy,  60,000 

(5)  St.  Vitus'  dance,  600 

(6)  Blindness,  4,000 

(7)  Deaf-mutism,  18,000 

(8)  Serious  physical  deformity,  20,000 

(9)  Chronic  alcoholism,  10,000 

And  this  represents  but  a  small  beginning,  we  are 
told !  Though  not  all  of  us,  probably,  will  approve 
of  the  compulsory  character  of  this  law — as  it  ap- 
plies, for  instance,  to  the  sterilizing  of  drunkards 
— we  cannot  but  admire  the  foresight  revealed  by 



the  plan  in  general,  and  realize  that  by  this  action 
Germany  is  going  to  make  herself  a  stronger  na- 
tion. No  one  can  tell  now,  naturally,  how  the  law 
will  work  out  in  practice.  By  its  very  stringency 
it  may  defeat  itself;  or,  on  the  contrary,  it  may 
prove  to  be  one  mighty  step  toward  the  creation  of 
a  better  German  race.  In  any  event,  we  in  this 
country  need  have  no  fear  lest  any  similar  whole- 
sale measure  be  adopted,  since  we  are  not  living 
under  a  dictatorship. 

American  Jewry  is  naturally  suspecting  that  the 
German  chancellor  had  the  law  enacted  for  the 
specific  purpose  of  sterilizing  the  German  Jews, 
but  I  believe  nothing  to  be  further  from  the  truth. 
The  German  law  provides  for  the  sterilization  of 
hereditary  defectives  only.  It  safeguards  the  rights 
of  every  individual,  and  where  it  sterilizes  it  will 
not  maim.  The  measure  is  solely  eugenic  in  its 
purpose,  and  were  it  not  for  its  compulsory  char- 
acter it  would  probably  meet  with  the  approval  of 
all  who  are  free  from  religious  bias. 

Undoubtedly  we  shall  now  see  a  wave  of  popu- 
lar sentiment  sweep  the  world.  Already  a  number 
of  countries  that  have  not  yet  actually  passed  any 
laws  are  manifesting  a  vivid  interest  in  the  sub- 
ject. The  interest  of  the  Soviet  governments  in 
eugenic  measures  is  well  known.  Russia  has  le- 


galized  abortion,  so  that  any  woman  (with  certain 
limitations)  may  have  it  performed  for  a  small 
fee  by  a  government  surgeon.  We  may  expect 
sterilization  laws  to  be  enacted  there  before  long 
if  the  interest  manifested  by  Russian  scientists  and 
legislators  is  any  indication.  The  Japanese,  too, 
are  in  close  touch  with  the  situation.  In  1929  the 
American  Eugenics  Society  sent  Professor  Ros- 
well  H.  Johnson  to  Japan  to  study  the  eugenic 
problem  there,  and  he  returned  with  the  impres- 
sion that  the  Japanese  are  as  keenly  alive  to  the 
subject  as  are  the  people  of  almost  any  other  coun- 
try. Besides  these  examples,  the  following  are  now 
considering  laws,  already  proposed  and  drafted : 
Tasmania,  New  Zealand,  Finland,  Norway,  and 
Sweden.  Sterilization  and  race  betterment  are 
indeed  becoming  compelling  ideas  among  all  en- 
lightened nations  to-day. 




The  subject  of  this  chapter  is  the  number  of  per- 
sons in  the  United  States  who,  according  to  various 
estimates,  need  sterilizing.  The  persons  whom  so- 
ciety could  do  without  are  more  numerous  than 
those  whom  it  should  sterilize.  If  in  one  fell 
swoop  we  could  eliminate  all  our  useless  degen- 
erates, incapable  of  anything  beyond  a  kind  of  gross 
animal  happiness,  if  we  could  awaken  one  morn- 
ing and  find  all  these  gone  in  some  mysterious  but 
painless  fashion,  what  class  of  persons  would  we 
fix  on  to  be  the  ones  eliminated? 

Because  we  know  that  any  nation  is  great  accord- 
ing to  the  kind  of  people  who  compose  it,  because 
we  know  that  persons  with  good  intelligence  and 
well-balanced  temperaments  make  the  best  neigh- 
bors, it  is  quite  likely  that  most  of  us  in  choosing 
would  start  from  the  top  and  work  downward.  A 
little  thinking,  however,  would  suggest  that  the 
better  method  would  be  to  start  eliminating  at  the 
bottom.  We  should  go  to  the  institutions  for  the 



feeble-minded  and  look  at  their  inmates.  The 
first  ones  to  be  picked  out  would  probably  be 
those  of  so  low  a  grade  as  to  be  hardly  better 
than  human  vegetables.  It  would  require  no 
divine  ability  to  decide  on  these.  Next  we  might 
select  the  imbeciles,  who  can  be  taught  to  use  their 
handkerchiefs  and  to  perform  other  little  common- 
place acts,  but  nothing  more.  By  this  time  we 
should  have  a  very  long  list — something  like 
60,000  inmates  of  institutions,  our  very  lowest 
grades  of  intelligence;  but  we  should  have  made 
only  an  infinitesimal  dent  in  our  population.  If 
we  were  then  to  add  to  our  list  all  the  hopelessly 
insane  we  should  be  adding  approximately  another 
60,000.  But  what  would  this  amount  to,  in  a 
nation  of  120,000,000  persons?  Practically  noth- 
ing. Moreover,  we  should  have  to  admit  that  all 
these  unfortunates  will  probably  stay  in  institu- 
tions for  the  rest  of  their  lives  anyhow,  and  so 
wouldn't  reproduce,  so  why  should  we  worry  about 
them?  Well,  we  shouldn't  worry  very  much,  ex- 
cept on  the  ground  of  the  money  they  are  cost- 
ing us. 

Our  next  step,  then,  would  have  to  be  out  into 
general  society.  Now  if  we  were  bent  on  selecting 
all  the  persons  whom  society  would  be  better  off 
without,  we  should  find  a  good  many  millions  of 



them — bungling  their  work,  existing  meagerly 
when  times  are  good,  and  living  off  the  rest  of  the 
population  when  times  are  bad.  Undoubtedly  so- 
ciety would  be  better  off  without  such,  though  the 
assertion  has  been  made  that  we  need  them  for  our 
drudgery — for  the  "dirty  work"  of  the  world. 
This  assertion  will  be  discussed  later  under  the 
objections  commonly  raised  to  sterilization. 

The  question  would  now  arise,  How  far  up  in 
the  intelligence  scale  are  we  to  go?  The  Army 
mental  test  results  showed  that  the  white  men  in 
the  American  draft  for  the  World  War  could  be 
classified  as  to  intelligence  by  the  following  per- 
centages (in  round  numbers)  : 

4    %  very  superior 

8    %  superior 

15.2%  high  average 

25    %  average 

23.8%  low  average 

17    %  inferior 

7.1%  very  inferior 

They  showed  also  that  half  of  our  adult  population 
is  below  the  mental  age  of  13.2— i.e.,  the  age  of  a 
normal  bright  boy  of  thirteen.  It  was  a  distressing 
revelation,  and  its  bearing  on  our  present  interest 
is  that,  if  we  put  our  lower  limit  of  desirability  at 



thirteen  mental  age,  we  should  be  considering  the 
sterilization  of  half  our  fellow-countrymen!  The 
age  of  ten  is  by  some  psychologists  regarded  as  the 
line  of  demarcation  between  the  dark  and  the  day- 
light of  usefulness.  Men  and  women  whose  minds 
have  never  grown  older  than  that  of  a  normal  child 
of  ten  require  more  supervision  and  assistance  at 
any  work  they  do  than  the  product  of  their  work 
will  pay  for.  Time  was  when  a  person  of  this 
mental  age  could  be  taught  to  sit  at  a  punch  press 
and  feed  it,  but  the  need  for  this  sort  of  work  is 

There  are  several  ways  of  estimating  the  num- 
ber of  feeble-minded  persons.  The  Army  mental 
tests,  though  often  criticized,  do  nevertheless  fur- 
nish a  reasonable  index  of  mentality,  and  they  show 
us  that  4,800,000  men  in  the  white  draft  had  an 
I.Q.  (intelligence  quotient)  below  .70.  The  intel- 
ligence quotient  is  arrived  at  by  dividing  the 
mental  age  of  the  person  by  his  chronological  age; 
as,  for  example,  a  young  man  of  19  whose  mental 
age  is  only  13  has  an  I.Q.  of  .68,  and  a  man  of  23 
whose  mental  age  is  15  has  an  I.Q.  of  .65.  This 
group  of  4,800,000  white  American  adults,  there- 
fore, with  an  I.Q.  of  .70  have  less  than  three- 
fourths  of  the  intelligence  they  should  have  to  be 
called  normal.  Because  an  I.Q.  of  .70  means  a  low 


mental  age,  it  is  fairly  well  agreed  that  persons 
with  any  less  intelligence  than  this  are  incapable 
of  getting  along  without  an  over-costly  amount  of 

The  figures  emerging  from  the  Army  tests  are 
roughly  paralleled  by  the  conditions  found  in  New 
Haven  during  the  study  of  the  5,000  children  who 
had  been  in  the  schools  for  subnormals.  All  these 
were  mental-tested  so  that  there  was  no  guesswork. 
The  tabulations  showed  that  slightly  over  5%  of 
New  Haven's  citizens  are  feeble-minded.  If  this 
condition  is  typical  of  the  whole  country,  we  shall 
have  to  estimate  the  number  of  our  feeble-minded 
at  6,500,000. 

The  Negroes  in  New  Haven  furnished  six  times 
as  many  subnormals  as  did  the  native-born  whites, 
and  the  Negro  population  of  that  city  is  probably 
no  less  intelligent  than  the  rest  of  the  Negro  popu- 
lation all  over  the  country;  if  anything,  it  may  be 
higher,  since  some  students  hold  that  a  Negro  has 
to  have  more  intelligence  and  gumption  to  migrate 
from  his  Southland  than  he  needs  to  stay  in  it.  If 
this  is  so,  something  like  a  eugenic  selection  has 
taken  place.  Let  us  hope,  however,  that  the  New 
Haven  figures  are  not  typical.  The  book  Army 
Mental  Tests  by  Yoakum  and  Yerkes  has  this  to 



The  comparison  of  Negro  with  white 
recruits  reveals  markedly  lower  mental 
ratings  for  the  former.  A  further  sig- 
nificant difference  based  on  geographical 
classification  has  been  noted  in  that  the 
northern  Negroes  are  mentally  much  su- 
perior to  the  southern. 

Thus,  if  we  add  the  Negro  total  of  feeble-mind- 
edness  to  the  white,  we  raise  our  number  still 
higher.  Even  if  we  do  not,  however,  there  is  an- 
other addition  that  we  cannot  avoid  making:  the 
4,800,000  persons  in  the  United  States  who  before 
they  die  will  be  classified  as  insane.  Lest  any  one 
doubt  this  statement,  here  are  some  facts.  In  our 
asylums  there  are  300,000  inmates  at  any  given 
time,  and  the  turnover  is  so  rapid  that  two  patients 
are  admitted  for  every  one  patient  who  is  dis- 
charged, 80,000  new  patients  being  admitted 
annually.  Death  also  takes  a  good  many.  One  per- 
son out  of  every  25  becomes  an  inmate  of  a  State 
hospital  for  mental  defectives  during  the  course 
of  every  generation;  one  family  in  every  seven  is 

But  no  less  an  authority  than  Dr.  C.  Floyd  Havi- 
land,  who  was  Commissioner  of  Health  for  New 
York  and  director  of  the  Manhattan  State  Hos- 


pital,  estimated  that  there  are  five  to  six  times  as 
many  mentally  diseased  persons  outside  of  institu- 
tions as  there  are  in  them.  If  all  were  committed, 
the  number  of  our  mentally  diseased  in  institutions 
would  be  1,800,000. 

Without  doubt  the  foreign-born  have  had  a  good 
deal  to  do  with  the  size  of  these  figures,  and  for 
this  fact  we  may  largely  blame  our  lax  immigra- 
tion laws.  The  foreign-born  furnish  in  some  cases 
as  much  as  six  times  as  many  feeble-minded  as  na- 
tives do,  while  as  for  the  mentally  diseased  the 
foreign-born  (averaging  all  nationalities)  furnish 
175  for  each  100  native-born. 

There  are  two-thirds  as  many  mental  defectives 
confined  in  our  public  institutions  as  there  are  stu- 
dents enrolled  in  the  regular  college  courses  in  the 
United  States. 

Suppose  we  look  at  the  problem  from  another 
angle.  Let  us  think  of  the  criminals.  Do  they 
come  from  the  best  homes,  or  from  inferior  homes? 
If  we  tend  to  pity  the  criminal  because  he  has 
come  from  the  wrong  kind  of  early  environment, 
let  us  ask  what  type  of  parents  have  produced  that 
environment  for  him?  It  is  from  the  typical  en- 
vironment of  the  mentally  low-grade  that  both  our 
city  gangs  and  our  criminals  are  derived.  It  is 
these  border-line  elements  that  make  up  our  slums, 


and  this  is  true  in  spite  of  the  occasional  exceptions 
found  in  gifted  writers  and  other  artists;  for  the 
latter  do  not  as  a  rule  emerge  from  people  who 
have  spent  three  generations  as  slum-dwellers — 
they  are  more  likely  to  come  from  the  families  of 
recent  immigrants  in  whom  the  skimming  process 
has  not  yet  begun. 

If  we  could  purge  the  country  of  our  typical 
slum  elements,  in  city  and  country  alike,  what  harm 
would  be  done?  Why  would  it  not  be  well  worth 
while  to  include  them  in  the  group  whom  we  are 
weeding  out  of  the  population  garden?  And  how 
many  of  them  are  there?  Nobody  knows.  This 
addition  to  our  list  could  hardly  be  counted  exactly. 

Including  all  the  various  types  of  less  useful 
social  elements,  we  should  probably  be  disposing 
of  the  lowest  fourth  of  our  population ;  and,  after 
the  economic  adjustment,  we  should  hardly  miss 
them.  But  I  am  not  here  suggesting  that  all  these 
be  sterilized  wholesale,  but  merely  that  we  make 
voluntary  sterilization  available  to  them. 

It  is  for  this  reason  that  I  am  somewhat  in  sym- 
pathy with  those  who  ask :  Suppose  in  a  few  cases 
we  do  sterilize  some  person  who  is  not  likely  to 
pass  dysgenic  traits  on?  Suppose  we  do  make  a 
mistake  occasionally  and  sterilize  somebody  whose 
subnormality  is  due  to  accident  and  not  to  heredity? 


What's  the  difference?  Whether  we  believe  that 
the  subnormality  is  traceable  to  heredity  or  to 
environment,  what  we  want  is  good  children  in 
good  homes.  Degenerate  parents  cannot  bring 
children  up  properly.  What  harm  if  they  become 

Judge  Harry  Olson  of  Chicago,  whom  I  have 
mentioned  before,  was  once  asked  to  speak  at  an 
important  meeting.  Ahead  of  his  speech  two  other 
numbers  appeared  on  the  program.  First  a  woman 
speaker  rose,  holding  a  bag,  which  she  presently 
opened,  drawing  forth  some  baby  things.  These 
she  held  up,  one  at  a  time,  while  she  told  of  the 
good  work  that  her  Society  was  doing  in  rescuing 
abandoned  waifs,  of  the  money  that  was  needed 
for  their  reclamation,  and  of  how  the  homes  in 
which  these  children  were  placed  were  molding 
their  characters  so  that  they  would  become  fine 
men  and  women.  The  good  old  appeal !  People 
open  their  hearts  and  their  pocketbooks  when  it 
is  made. 

Following  her,  a  man  sang  Henley's  famous 
poem,  Invictus.  Then  Judge  Olson  was  intro- 
duced. He  came  forward,  with  that  well-known 
dignity,  that  calm,  compassionate  expression,  and 
for  a  moment  stood  silent.  Then  he  said:  "My 
friends,  my  subject  has  been  announced  as  The 


Prevention  of  Crime.  But  I  have  just  now  de- 
cided that  I  am  not  going  to  speak  on  that  subject. 
We  have  all  heard  a  beautiful  rendering  of  Hen- 
ley's poem,  and  I  am  going  to  speak  on  a  subject 
that  it  suggests  to  me:  'I  am  not  the  master  of  my 
fate — I  am  not  the  captain  of  my  soul !' '  And 
there  followed  an  extemporaneous  speech  that  will 
never  be  forgotten  by  the  audience  that  heard  it. 
Judge  Olson  was  right:  there  are  millions  of 
Americans  who  are  not — never  have  been — the 
controllers  of  their  own  destinies ;  through  heredity 
or  through  environment  they  have  all  their  lives 
been  "bound  in  misery  and  iron."  And  when  I 
begin  to  weigh  this  question  of  heredity  vs.  environ- 
ment as  a  determining  factor,  I  always  think  of 
Judge  Olson  and  of  one  other  man.  When  Olson 
— then  Mr.  Olson — was  in  the  State  Attorney's 
office  he  was  considered  a  prosecutor  of  great 
promise.  Contending  against  him  was  another 
promising  young  man  named  Clarence  Darrow. 
Mr.  Darrow  has  told  me  that  Olson  was  the  smart- 
est prosecutor  he  ever  had  to  meet;  and  Judge 
Olson  tells  me  that  Darrow  was  the  cleverest,  ablest 
defense  attorney  he  ever  argued  against.  In  his 
earlier  days  Olson  was  given  to  stressing  heredity 
as  the  predisposing  cause  of  crime,  while  Darrow 
insisted  on  environment;  since  then,  each  man  has 


shifted  his  position  somewhat.  I  mention  these 
facts  as  preface  to  the  interesting  coincidence  that 
Mr.  Darrow — without  dreaming  that  Judge  Olson 
had  ever  done  so  before  him — also  spoke  once  on 
this  same  text:  "I  am  not  the  master  of  my  fate — 
I  am  not  the  captain  of  my  soul." 

To  say  that  to-day  both  men,  having  changed 
their  views  considerably,  hold  that  heredity  and 
environment  are  perhaps  equally  important  as  de- 
terminants is  only  to  say  that  they  are  probably 
representative  of  the  majority  of  us.  It  seems  to 
me  immaterial  whether  we  hold  that  a  boy  is  a  bad 
citizen  because  he  has  inherited  bad  traits  from  his 
forebears  or  whether  we  blame  his  childhood  en- 
vironment for  these;  in  either  case,  if  he  is  the 
child  of  bad  parents  he  has  not  had  the  right  start, 
and  they  ought  never  to  have  produced  him.  His 
start  must  come  from  his  parents,  and  whether  his 
subsequent  useless  or  vicious  life  is  the  result  of 
germ-plasm  or  of  their  inability  to  rear  him  right 
makes  no  difference :  sterilizing  them  will  prevent 
their  launching  other  potential  defectives  or  crimi- 
nals to  burden  our  civilization. 

In  the  case  of  such  children  it  is  too  late  to  think 
of  their  heredity  or  their  environment  if  we  wait 
until  they  are  grown.  Since  they  did  not  "choose 
good  grandparents,"  as  the  first  Oliver  Wendell 



Holmes  advised  us  all  to  do,  there  remains  now, 
apparently,  only  the  resource  of  sterilization  if  we 
are  to  help  future  generations  to  be  freed  of  the 
effects  of  that  bad  heredity  or  that  bad  environment. 
I  say  "apparently"  because  in  subsequent  chapters 
I  propose  to  show  that  there  are  other  ways  of 
attacking  the  problem  than  any  such  wholesale 
compulsory  sterilization  as  is  implied  in  the  elimi- 
nation of  the  ten  millions  of  our  population  whom 
we  should  be  able  to  get  along  without. 





In  Virginia  they  sterilized  Carrie  Buck.  But 
before  they  got  her  sterilized,  a  storm  of  litigation 
had  risen  and  raged,  not  to  be  stilled  until  the  Su- 
preme Court  of  the  United  States  handed  down  a 
decision  which  made  history. 

In  Carrie's  case  the  operation  was  compulsory, 
and  what  had  to  be  established  first  was  whether 
or  not  she  was  feeble-minded.  It  was  proved  that 
she  was ;  mental  tests  showed  that  though  she  was 
1 8  years  old  chronologically  she  was  only  about 
9  years  old  mentally.  It  then  became  relevant  to 
determine,  as  well,  whether  she  had  been  socially 
adequate.  Her  past  record  was  therefore  put 
on  file,  proving  that  Carrie  had  never  been  self- 
sustaining  except  under  supervision ;  that  she  had 
had  a  baby  who  also  was  a  mental  defective ;  that 
her  life  thus  far  had  been  marked  by  untruthful- 
ness,  immorality,  and  prostitution.  All  things  con- 
sidered, the  authorities  maintained  that  they  had 
done  the  proper  thing  in  having  her  committed  as 



a  feeble-minded  person  under  the  laws  of  the  Com- 
monwealth of  Virginia. 

Then  it  was  proposed,  further,  that  the  girl 
should  be  sterilized.  But  sterilization,  as  per- 
formed in  our  public  institutions,  is  authorized 
only  in  case  an  inheritable  defect  can  be  proved. 
So  the  State  detailed  agents  to  study  Carrie's  ante- 
cedents. They  found  that  the  identity  of  Carrie's 
father  could  not  be  ascertained,  though  learning 
facts  about  her  mother  was  not  difficult.  Why? 
Because  her  mother,  Emma  Buck,  was  an  inmate 
of  the  same  institutional  colony.  The  mother's 
chronological  age  was  52,  but  she  proved  on  test 
to  be  slightly  under  8  mentally.  Before  being  com- 
mitted, she  too  had  been  a  prostitute,  had  had 
syphilis,  and  had  given  birth  to  two  sons  before 
Carrie.  The  agents  reported,  in  addition,  that  the 
family  stock  on  the  mother's  side  was  typical  of 
"the  shiftless,  ignorant,  worthless  class  of  anti- 
social whites  of  the  South."  Like  Carrie's  own 
father,  the  fathers  of  her  two  half-brothers  could 
not  be  traced.  The  agents  found  that,  although  the 
shifting  habits  of  her  class  and  family  made  it 
almost  impossible  to  learn  as  much  of  her  back- 
ground as  they  wanted  to,  they  did  learn  a  good 
deal.  She  had  been  abandoned  as  a  baby  and 
adopted  when  she  was  four  by  a  Charlottesville 


woman,  who  had  given  her  all  the  education  that 
the  backward  child  could  absorb;  Carrie  had  gone 
as  far  as  the  sixth  grade. 

But  in  spite  of  this  good  environment  Carrie 
took  to  immorality.  This  was  tolerated  by  her 
foster-mother  as  long  as  she  could  stand  it;  but 
when  Carrie  became  pregnant  that  was  the  last 
straw.  The  girl  had  demonstrated  that  she  was 
almost  useless  except  under  strict  supervision  and 
certainly  incapable  of  self-support  or  even  of  self- 

All  these  findings  revealed  the  girl  as  not  only 
the  daughter  of  a  feeble-minded  person  but  also 
as  the  parent  of  a  child  who  had  inherited  her 
mental  deficiency.  In  a  word,  Carrie  had  fulfilled 
every  requirement  of  the  Virginia  statute;  so  she 
was  ordered  sterilized  by  the  Special  Board  of 
Directors  of  the  State  Colony  for  the  Epileptic 
and  Feeble-minded,  as  required  by  law,  on  the 
petition  of  A.  S.  Priddy,  superintendent  of  the 
colony.  His  reason?  Carrie  was  at  the  moment 
an  inmate  of  the  colony,  and  if  she  were  to  be  dis- 
charged she  would  go  out  as  the  potential  parent 
of  still  other  socially  inadequate  offspring.  He 
said  that  she  could  be  sterilized  without  harm  to 
her  general  health.  Oral  evidence  was  presented 
before  the  Board,  and  it  ordered  the  sterilization. 



Then  came  the  storm.  Judge  Bennett  T.  Gor- 
don of  the  Circuit  Court  appointed  a  guardian  for 
Carrie.  As  is  the  usual  procedure,  he  listened  to 
testimony,  including  that  presented  to  the  Special 
Board  and  a  deposition  by  an  expert  in  heredity 
who  analyzed  Carrie's  case  from  that  viewpoint. 
The  judge  then  affirmed  the  decision  of  the  Special 
Board.  The  case  was  thereupon  appealed. 

In  the  Virginia  Supreme  Court  of  Appeals, 
Judge  Jesse  F.  West  sustained  the  statute,  declar- 
ing that  "the  act  complies  with  the  requirements 
of  due  process  of  law,"  that  it  "is  not  a  penal 
statute"  and  therefore  cannot  "impose  cruel  and 
unusual  punishment,"  and  finally  that,  because  the 
statute  "does  not  deny  the  appellant  .  .  .  the  equal 
protection  of  the  law,  .  .  .  the  Virginia  Steriliza- 
tion Act  is  based  upon  a  reasonable  classification 
and  is  a  valid  enactment  under  the  State  and  the 
Federal  Constitutions."  Before  rendering  his 
considered  opinion,  Judge  West  listened  to  the 
testimony  of  two  institutional  heads  and  two  ex- 
perts on  heredity. 

One  of  the  latter,  Dr.  Harry  H.  Laughlin,  Su- 
perintendent of  the  Eugenics  Record  Office,  testi- 
fied that  in  the  archives  of  that  institution  there 
were  many  manuscript  pedigrees  of  families  with 
feeble-minded  members.  These  pedigrees,  he 



said,  proved  conclusively  that  both  feeble-mind- 
edness  and  other  intelligence  levels  are  in  most 
cases  accounted  for  by  hereditary  qualities.  "Mod- 
ern eugenical  sterilization  .  .  .  is  a  force  for  the 
mitigation  of  race  degeneracy  which,  if  properly 
used,  is  safe  and  effective.  I  have  come  to  this 
conclusion  after  a  thorough  study  of  the  legal,  bio- 
logical, and  eugenical  aspects  and  the  practical 
working  out  of  all  the  sterilization  laws  which 
have  been  enacted  by  the  several  States  up  to  the 
present  time." 

Of  the  large  amount  of  testimony  offered,  a  few 
points  are  worth  special  consideration.  The  super- 
intendent of  the  institution  in  which  Carrie  was 
confined  made  some  points  that  will  be  remem- 
bered and  quoted  more  and  more  in  years  to  come. 

Q.  Taking  into  consideration  the  years 
of  experience  you  have  had  in  dealing 
with  the  socially  inadequate,  and  more 
particularly  with  the  feeble-minded,  what, 
in  your  judgment,  would  be  the  general 
effect,  both  upon  patients  and  upon  society 
at  large,  of  the  operation  of  this  law? 

A.     It  would  be  a  blessing. 

Q.  Of  course  these  people,  being  of 
limited  intelligence,  lack  full  judgment 


of  what  is  best  for  them,  but  generally,  so 
far  as  patients  are  concerned,  do  they  ob- 
ject to  this  operation  or  not? 

A.    They  clamor  for  it. 

Q.    Why? 

A.  Because  they  know  that  it  means 
the  enjoyment  of  life  and  the  peaceful 
pursuit  of  happiness,  as  they  view  it,  on 
the  outside  of  institution  walls.  Also  they 
have  the  opportunity  of  marrying  men  of 
their  mental  level  and  making  good  wives 
in  many  cases.  .  .  .  The  strong  reason 
for  the  operation  of  the  sterilization  law 
is  that  the  State  contemplates  the  deten- 
tion of  these  women  in  the  institution 
during  their  child-bearing  period  of  from 
twenty-five  to  thirty  years;  and  by  sterili- 
zation— an  absolutely  harmless  operation 
— within  three  weeks  the  end  that  would 
be  attained  in  twenty-five  years  would  be 
brought  about.  They  are  no  worse  off 
when  sterilized  surgically  than  when 
sterilized  by  Nature  after  being  kept 
locked  up  for  twenty-five  or  thirty  years. 

Q.  In  other  words,  when  segregated, 
they  are  effectually  prevented  from  prop- 


A.  Yes,  sir.  And  there  is  another 
matter  to  be  considered:  when  you  keep 
these  women  locked  up  for  twenty-five  to 
thirty  years,  the  door  of  hope  is  closed  to 
them.  They  are  incapable  of  getting  out 
and  earning  their  own  living. 

Q.  In  other  words,  you  have  to  train 
them  young,  and  if  you  postpone  their 
opportunities  for  training  they  get  so  they 
cannot  do  it? 

A.  Yes,  sir ;  they  become  helpless  and 
lose  confidence  in  themselves. 

A  large  number  of  cases  were  cited  in  the  court 
to  show  that  Carrie  had  had  due  process  of  law, 
that  no  cruel  and  unusual  punishment  was  con- 
templated, that  this  was  not  a  case  of  class  legisla- 
tion under  the  meaning  of  the  law,  that  the  State 
had  the  power  to  enact  legislation  so  long  as  it  did 
not  deprive  the  individual  of  his  or  her  constitu- 
tional rights,  that  this  operation  was  akin  to  com- 
pulsory vaccination,  and  that  there  are  manifold 
restraints  to  which  every  person  living  in  an  or- 
dered community  is  necessarily  subject  for  the 
common  good. 

Finally  Carrie's  case  reached  the  Supreme  Court 
of  the  United  States.  It  was  then  that  Mr.  Jus- 



tice  Holmes  delivered  his  now  famous  opinion.1 
Here  it  is : 

We  have  seen  more  than  once  that  the 
public  welfare  may  call  upon  the  best 
citizens  for  their  lives.  It  would  be 
strange  if  it  could  not  call  upon  those  who 
already  sap  the  strength  of  the  State  for 
these  lesser  sacrifices,  often  not  felt  to  be 
such  by  those  concerned,  in  order  to  pre- 
vent our  being  swamped  with  incompe- 
tence. It  is  better  for  all  the  world  if, 
instead  of  waiting  to  execute  degenerate 
offspring  for  crime,  or  to  let  them  starve 
for  their  imbecility,  society  can  prevent 
those  who  are  manifestly  unfit  from  con- 
tinuing their  kind.  The  principle  that 
sustains  compulsory  vaccination  is  broad 
enough  to  cover  cutting  the  Fallopian 
tubes.  .  .  .  Three  generations  of  imbe- 
ciles are  enough. 

But,  it  is  said,  however  it  might  be  if 
this  reasoning  were  applied  generally,  it 
fails  when  it  is  confined  to  the  small  num- 
ber who  are  in  the  institutions  named  and 
is  not  applied  to  the  multitudes  outside. 
1  Buck  vs.  Bell,  1927. 


It  is  the  usual  last  resort  of  Constitu- 
tional arguments  to  point  out  shortcom- 
ings of  this  sort.  But  the  answer  is  that 
the  law  does  all  that  is  needed  when  it 
does  all  that  it  can:  indicates  a  policy, 
applies  it  to  all  within  the  lines,  and  seeks 
to  bring  within  the  lines  all  similarly  situ- 
ated so  far  and  so  fast  as  its  means  allow. 
Of  course  so  far  as  the  operations  enable 
those  who  otherwise  must  be  kept  con- 
fined to  be  returned  to  the  world,  and  thus 
open  the  asylum  to  others,  the  equality 
aimed  at  will  be  more  nearly  reached. 

So  Carrie  was  sterilized;  Carrie,  the  feeble- 
minded girl  around  whom  such  protection  had 
been  thrown  that  before  she  could  be  sterilized  her 
case  went  to  the  Supreme  Court  of  the  United 
States ;  Carrie,  the  ultimate  decision  in  whose  case 
paved  the  way  for  thousands  of  other  unfortunates 
to  be  relieved  of  part  of  the  burden  of  their  in- 
firmities— the  birth  of  unwanted  children  whose 
coming,  along  with  the  inherited  deficiency,  is  so 
great  a  handicap  that  hope  for  them  is  impossible. 

Carrie,  poor  unfortunate  Carrie — little  does  she 
know  how  greatly,  if  unconsciously,  she  has  served 
the  world! 


The  case  of  Carrie  Buck  is  not,  however,  alto- 
gether typical.  Naturally  the  courts  are  not  always 
thrown  open  to  litigation  whenever  a  sterilization 
case  is  under  consideration.  Let  us  take  the  hypo- 
thetical case  of  a  father  and  mother  who  have  a 
daughter  in  an  institution  for  the  feeble-minded  in 
(let  us  say)  Idaho.  Mary  is  eighteen  and  has 
shown  that  she  can  behave  pretty  well  when  she  is 
supervised.  One  day  the  parents  get  a  letter  from 
the  superintendent  saying  that  he  thinks  it  would 
be  wise  to  have  Mary  sterilized  and  then  to  let  her 
go  home.  What  do  they  think? 

Well,  to  tell  the  truth,  they  have  never  given 
such  a  possibility  any  thought  at  all.  Now  they 
remember  that  there  are  some  boys  in  the  neigh- 
borhood who  often  used  to  come  and  see  Mary 
before  she  was  committed,  and  they  begin  to  won- 
der whether,  if  she  does  come  home,  some  of  these 
boys  will  be  after  her,  and  pretty  soon  they'll  have 
a  baby  on  their  hands  to  take  care  of.  What  does 
the  superintendent  mean,  anyhow,  by  "sterilized"? 
They  discuss  the  question,  but  without  getting  any- 
where. So  they  decide  to  drive  over  and  see  the 

He  is  a  pleasant,  kindly  man,  entirely  ready  to 
explain  anything  in  the  situation  that  puzzles  or 
troubles  them.  They  begin  to  question  him.  What 

[i  66] 


is  this  operation  he  is  talking  about?  Will  it  hurt 
Mary?  Will  it  make  her  get  fat?  Will  it  do  any- 
thing to  improve  her  mind?  Will  it  make  her  less 
interested  in  boys? 

The  superintendent  assures  them  that  the  opera- 
tion, which  he  describes  very  simply  to  them,  will 
cause  Mary  very  little  pain,  that  she  will  be  given 
the  best  care  that  the  infirmary  can  provide,  and 
that  she  will  not  get  fat  as  a  result  of  it.  It  will 
not,  he  admits,  correct  her  mental  deficiency  nor 
reduce  her  interest  in  boys ;  but  if  ever  a  boy  does 
take  advantage  of  her,  if  her  feeble  inhibitions  run 
away  with  her,  there  can  be  no  result  in  the  form 
of  a  baby.  Is  this  what  the  parents  wanted  to 

Mother  looks  at  Father,  and  Father  nods  back. 
"Do  you  perform  many  of  these  operations?"  he 
asks,  and  is  at  once  told  that  a  great  many  are  being 
done  right  along  and  that  the  patients  are  happy 
over  the  results.  So  after  a  little  further  discussion 
the  two  say  that  they  will  go  home  and  think  it 
over  some  more.  In  fact,  the  subject  occupies  their 
minds  and  is  the  major  theme  of  their  conversation 
for  several  days,  till  at  length  they  come  to  a  deci- 
sion and  write  to  the  superintendent  that  they  are 
willing  to  have  Mary  sterilized. 

The  next  step  in  the  procedure  is  that  the  super- 


intendent  presents  the  case  at  the  regular  meeting 
of  the  State  Board  of  Eugenics.  As  prescribed  by 
law,  this  is  composed  of  "the  State  Health  Advisor 
and  the  superintendents  of  all  the  State  institutions 
for  insane,  feeble-minded,  and  criminalistic." 

The  Board  take  the  matter  under  advisement, 
and  after  due  consideration,  again  as  prescribed  by 
law,  they  issue  a  statement  that  as  a  result  of  careful 
inquiry  they  believe  that  Mary  is  likely  to  be  the 
progenitor  of  children  who  would  be  feeble- 
minded and  a  menace  to  the  State — probably, 
indeed,  wards  of  the  State;  that  there  is  little  likeli- 
hood of  any  improvement  in  her  condition;  that 
they  therefore  deem  it  advisable  that  she  be  op- 
erated on ;  and  that  they  have  received  through  the 
superintendent's  office  the  written  consent  of  the 
girl's  parents. 

Then  the  Board  considers  what  type  of  operation 
shall  be  performed,  and  orders  salpingectomy. 
The  operation  done,  and  the  girl  over  her  conva- 
lescence, she  is  released  to  her  parents.  Mary  can 
now  live  at  home,  watched  by  her  mother,  more 
contented  perhaps  than  she  was  in  the  institution, 
running  around  a  good  deal  with  the  boys  and 
taken  advantage  of  by  them  rather  often — true; 
but  she  never  has  a  baby. 

It  may  be  interesting  to  consider  the  fees  paid  to 
[i  68] 


the  surgeons  who  perform  these  operations,  and 
what  the  State  is  liable  to  in  the  way  of  further 
expense.  Most  States  allow  the  surgeon  a  fee  of 
$25  and  refund  their  traveling  expenses  to  the  Board 
members  who  act  on  the  cases  presented.  With  so 
low  a  surgeon's  fee,  there  is  evidently  little  risk  of 
graft  and  no  incentive  for  any  surgeon  to  operate 
in  more  cases  than  are  strictly  necessary. 

In  no  two  States  are  the  laws  exactly  the  same, 
each  State  having  provisions  that  apparently  are 
considered  appropriate  to  its  own  conditions.  Rel- 
evant points  are  the  density  of  its  population,  the 
kind  of  arguments  offered  in  the  legislative  houses 
at  the  time  of  presenting  the  original  bill,  and  the 
period  at  which  the  bill  is  passed.  In  the  future 
there  will  doubtless  be  greater  uniformity  because 
the  proponents  and  authors  of  new  bills  will  be 
able  to  draw  on  the  experience  of  other  States. 





If  you  know  the  subnormals  in  our  population, 
you  know  that  they  do  not  have  children  from 
choice.  They  accept  them  because  they  do  not 
know  how  to  avoid  them;  but  they  do  avoid  the 
responsibilities  of  parenthood,  frequently  at  the 
expense  of  the  community.  The  usual  reason  why 
degenerates  have  children  is  because  they  cant  help 
it.  If  they  knew  how  to  prevent  conception,  they 
would  adopt  the  procedure  as  eagerly  as  they  ac- 
cept their  weekly  charity  dole.  Yet  even  they 
have  but  to  look  around  them  to  see  that  nearly 
all  intelligent  persons  are  limiting  their  families. 

Here  is  a  table  that  Professor  Huntington  and 
I  made  after  studying  the  family  sizes  reported 
by  persons  of  various  religious  faiths,  as  listed  in 
"Who's  Who  In  America."  You  can  see  that  the 
investigation  has  been  a  broad  one,  since  actually 
nineteen  separate  religious  faiths  have  been  in- 



of  Denomi- 

Men in 




Who"  per 

per   man 



dren  per 








United  Brethren.  . 








Evangelicals    .... 







1,  600 





















Roman  Catholics  .  . 




Presbyterians  .... 
















Episcopalians    .  .  . 












Universalists   .... 




Take  any  class  of  society  that  you  wish  and  you 
will  find  that  religion  has  very  little  to  do  with 
family  size. 

The  figures  given  above  show,  with  the  curious 



exception  of  the  Mormons,  a  difference  of  only  0.9 
in  the  average  number  of  children  of  eighteen  re- 
ligious faiths.  In  other  words  the  difference  is  less 
than  one  child  per  man,  even  allowing  for  the 
greatest  variation. 

Another  study  on  a  smaller  scale,  a  neighbor- 
hood study  made  by  the  writer,  surveyed  a  neigh- 
borhood of  high  middle  class  and  bore  out  very 
accurately  the  results  of  the  table  made  with  Pro- 
fessor Huntington.  The  figures  did  not  represent 
all  the  children  that  had  been  born,  but  only  the 
living  children  of  mothers  over  forty-five.  The 
average  was  2.4  children. 

When  we  come  to  the  low  class  social  elements, 
other  factors  indicate  that  religion  seems  to  make 
little  difference  in  size  of  family.  The  reason  is 
that  this  class  of  people  is  too  stupid  to  com- 
prehend the  physiology  of  reproduction,  and  too 
shiftless  to  bother  about  learning  contraceptive 
methods.  In  many  cases,  when  they  do  have  in- 
formation, they  are  too  poor  to  buy  good  materials, 
and  in  some  cases  too  lazy  or  witless  to  use  these 
as  they  have  been  instructed  to.  I  am  convinced 
that  if  such  people  could  be  sent  to  a  hospital  where 
they  could  have  a  good  two  weeks'  rest  at  public 
expense,  good  meals,  and  all  sorts  of  comforts  that 



they  do  not  have  at  home,  they  would  welcome 
sterilization.  Their  major  troubles  would  be  over. 

Case  histories  can  be  overdone,  but  because  they 
illustrate  my  point  so  very  well,  I  want  to  tell  you 
about  some  families  I  have  known. 

As  a  preface  let  me  recall  to  your  mind  that  it 
requires  four  children  to  perpetuate  a  family,  and 
also  that  the  infant  mortality  rate  among  slum 
people  is  prodigiously  high.  Now  many  people 
feel  that  even  subnormals  should  be  permitted  to 
have  at  least  two  children,  to  satisfy  the  parental 
instinct — though  I  assure  you  that  most  subnormals 
would  consider  even  two  children  a  little  more 
than  enough.  But,  assuming  that  subnormal  cou- 
ples were  to  have  two  children  apiece,  the  high 
infant  mortality  rate  among  them  would  force  a 
drop  of  fifty  percent  in  their  numbers  each  genera- 

Well,  there  was  that  faithful,  hard-working 
woman  who  did  our  washing  for  several  years. 
Left  a  widow  with  five  young  children  to  rear,  she 
has  spent  a  lifetime  of  drudgery  and  hardship,  to 
find  herself  at  sixty  a  tired  old  woman  entirely 
dependent  on  the  city  for  support.  Of  the  three 
children  she  has  brought  up  to  maturity,  only  one 
is  a  comfort  to  her;  and  he  has  been  unemployed 
so  long  that  he  is  a  liability  rather  than  an  asset. 


On  several  occasions  she  has  said  that  if  she  had 
it  to  do  over  again,  with  the  information  about 
birth-control  that  she  has  picked  up  in  recent  years 
she  would  have  only  one  child.  "It's  them  kids 
that  have  kept  me  poor.  Why  I  was  blessed  with 
'em  I  don't  know." 

Another  instance  is  that  of  a  very  high-class 
couple  who  ought  never  to  have  had  any  children, 
and  have  repeatedly  told  me  so.  In  their  case  they 
had  had  them  because  at  the  time  they  didn't  know 
how  to  avoid  it.  They  have  three  children,  of 
whom  two  are  insane  and  one  is  normal.  The  fam- 
ily history  proves  that  the  two  insane  children 
are  unquestionably  the  products  of  unfortunate 
heredity.  Even  though  the  chances  were  only  one 
in  four  that  these  fine  people  would  have  an  insane 
child,  still  the  odds  were  against  them  and  they 
had  two.  Neither  child  will  ever  be  any  use  to 
society,  and  both  will  be  perpetually  cared  for  at 
the  expense  of  the  family.  The  father  has  con- 
fessed to  me  that  having  the  one  normal  daughter 
has  not  compensated  for  the  two  pathetic,  de- 
mented sons.  He  has  since  been  sterilized  vol- 

And  now  to  go  almost  to  the  other  extreme,  con- 
sider for  a  moment  a  family  in  Connecticut.  It 
stands  as  the  best  illustration  I  know  of  the  fact 



I  am  trying  to  bring  out:  that  our  degenerates  and 
our  producers  of  degenerates  do  not  want  children, 
but  have  them  because  they  cannot  avoid  it.  This 
family  is  notorious.  When  the  man's  first  wife 
died,  he  sold  her  body  to  a  medical  school  for  $20. 
When,  years  later,  after  he  had  remarried,  he  was 
asked  whether  this  were  true  he  replied,  "Yes,  by 
God,  and  I  wish  I  could  get  that  much  for  this 

Children  came  to  "bless"  this  man's  mar- 
riages. They  were  reared  in  squalor,  and  every  time 
a  new  baby  arrived  there  was  plenty  of  trouble  in 
the  family.  If  they  had  not  been  assisted  there 
might  never  have  been  more  than  three  children, 
but  undiscriminating  charity  provided  royal  care 
for  them.  The  father  didn't  even  have  to  work, 
for  the  town's  charity  organization  paid  the  medi- 
cal bills,  confinement  costs,  food,  heat,  rent — 
everything.  It  was  "the  life  of  Riley"  for  him — 
that  is,  so  far  as  freedom  from  responsibility  was 
concerned.  But  family  life  was  never  serene  be- 
cause of  the  constant  wrangling  over  his  sexual 
relations  with  his  wife,  who  was  in  constant  dread 
of  becoming  pregnant.  But  the  babies  came  and 
came  and  CAME,  until  there  are  now  nine.  When 
the  eighth  child  was  coming  the  wife  threw  rocks 
at  her  husband,  and  when  the  ninth  was  coming 


she  got  so  furious  that  she  went  out  into  the  street 
on  a  lovely  spring  morning  when  the  tree  depart- 
ment was  spraying  the  elms  to  kill  leaf  beetles,  and 
helped  herself  to  a  spoonful  of  arsenate  of  lead, 
which  she  proceeded  to  stir  into  her  husband's  tea. 
It  made  him  very  ill,  but  that  was  all. 

Certainly  after  the  first  child  in  this  family,  not 
one  more  was  wanted  by  either  the  father  or  the 
mother,  and  it  was  a  crime  against  society  that 
more  than  one  was  born.  A  crime,  yes,  because 
the  children  from  that  couple  are  of  the  same 
caliber  as  their  parents  and  have  made  no  end  of 
trouble  for  the  town  to  which  they  owe  their  whole 
support.  The  girls  have  spread  venereal  disease, 
and  the  boys  have  been  in  mischief  time  and 

One  night  a  party  of  men,  including  the  writer, 
went  coon-hunting.  Besides  one  college  professor 
there  were  others  from  a  good  many  walks  of  life. 
Something  in  the  course  of  our  conversation  led 
up  to  a  discussion  of  our  sexual  problems.  I  asked 
the  men  to  tell  me  exactly  what  they  thought  about 
this  question  of  having  children;  and,  the  unani- 
mous opinion  was  that  if  a  family  had  one  child, 
any  others  after  that  were  accidents. 

Only  one  man  in  the  entire  group  refused  to 
answer  then;  he  said  he  would  give  me  his 


opinion  privately  the  next  day.  This  was  the 
college  professor,  and  his  answer  was  highly  in- 
teresting. He  said  he  thought  that  the  people  with 
whom  he  associated  wanted  about  four  children. 
This  is  just  what  I  myself  had  gathered  from  ob- 
servation of  that  class.  I  am  convinced  that  the  tide 
has  turned :  that  we  are  witnessing  another  revolu- 
tion, greater  than  the  economic  even,  a  biological 

In  The  Builders  of  America  Professor  Hunting- 
ton  and  I  published  some  figures  that  were  the  re- 
sult of  a  long  study  of  what  we  concluded  was  a 
new  trend  in  society,  and  during  the  same  year 
three  other  investigators  (Phillips,  Woods,  and 
Lockeman  in  Germany)  issued  similar  findings. 
And  all  these  findings  are,  I  believe,  valuable 
straws  showing  us  that  the  wind  has  changed  and 
is  blowing  not  ill  but  good. 

If  one  were  to  look  at  the  entire  population  and 
try  to  guess  the  birth-rates  by  groups  on  the  basis 
of  innate  social  worth,  one  might  expect  to  find 
that  those  at  the  top  have  small  families  and  that 
as  one  went  down  the  ladder  of  social  fitness  one 
would  find  the  families  increasingly  larger.  Now, 
in  general,  this  is  what  we  found — with  one  ex- 
ception; and  that  exception  constitutes  the  most 
significant  fact,  I  believe,  that  has  been  discovered 

[i  80] 


in  this  field.  Instead  of  finding  that  our  top  group 
had  the  smallest  number  of  children,  we  found 
that  they  were  having  considerably  more  children 
than  were  the  group  just  below  them.  (Part  of 
our  study  consisted  in  having  college  graduates 
rate  their  fellows  as  to  success  in  life,  and  we  were 
interested  to  see  that  their  criterion  of  success  was 
not  wealth,  that  millionaires  were  often  rated 
among  the  lowest  fifth,  while  missionaries  were 
placed  in  the  first  fifth  of  the  group.)  In  all  we 
had  2,400  men  to  study  and,  when  we  had  com- 
pleted the  tabulation,  we  found  that  the  predictions 
of  population  experts  were  all  awry. 

Percent          Percent  Percent 

married,  or  having   1  having  3 

married  but  or  2  cnil-  or  more 

no  children         dren  children 

1  Most  successful. .  4.9  6.1  9.0 

2  Successful 5.7  7.4  6.9 

3  Average  6.4  7.7  5.9 

4  Relatively  unsuc- 

cessful       10.0        6.2        3.6 

5  Least  successful ..     12.3        5.4        2.3 

For  if  we  took  the  men  of  the  top  fifth  we  found 
that  they  were  more  often  married,  more  often 
had  at  least  one  child,  and  had  far  more  children 
than  the  lowest  fifth  (or  any  other  fifth,  for  that 



matter).  When  we  came  to  consider  any  group 
of  intelligent  persons,  such  as  ministers,  lawyers, 
physicians,  college  professors,  business  men,  engi- 
neers, etc.,  the  most  successful  had  the  largest  fam- 
ilies, and  the  trend  was  downward,  with  the 
lowest  fifth  having  the  smallest  families.  (The 
table  appears  on  page  181.) 

This  proves  that  a  movement  in  the  right  direc- 
tion has  started :  instead  of  wanting  one  child  only, 
these  high-class  people  whose  children  are  a  mat- 
ter of  choice  rather  than  of  chance  have  had  more 
than  a  single  child.  Another  indication  is  found 
in  the  answers  given  by  a  group  of  college  students 
who  were  asked  to  say  how  many  children  they 
believed  constituted  an  ideal  family.  The  major- 
ity of  the  men  replied,  "One  boy  and  one  girl." 
This  was  in  1920.  The  question  was  asked  again 
two  years  ago  of  another  and  later  class  of  male 
students,  and  the  reply  this  time  was,  "Four — two 
boys  and  two  girls."  And  again  we  are  consider- 
ing a  group  of  highly  intelligent  young  people. 
Finally,  similar  evidence  is  derivable  from  the 
study  made  by  Dr.  Florence  Brown  Sherbon  of 
the  University  of  Kansas,  Adolescent  Fantasy  as  a 
Determiner  of  Adult  Conduct.  Her  findings  seem 
to  me  quite  rich  in  significance.  She  asked  her 
freshman  girls  to  define  their  marriage  ideals — 


the  sort  of  husbands  they  hoped  for,  the  size  of 
home,  the  number  of  children,  and  so  on.  Since 
that  time  she  has  been  able  to  watch  what  is  hap- 
pening to  those  girls  now  that  they  are  women,  to 
see  whether  their  hopes  have  been  fulfilled;  and 
she  learns  that  those  "adolescent  fantasies"  have 
to  a  considerable  extent  determined  later  choices, 
have  at  least  served  as  incentives  in  the  choice  of 
mate,  of  type  of  home,  of  size  of  family.  If  we 
may  take  these  findings  as  at  all  typical,  they  prove 
that  our  educated  children  may  be  at  work  making 
a  better  America.  These  young  people  are  going 
to  have  larger  families  than  their  parents  had. 
The  wealthier  class  in  general  is  setting  the  fashion 
of  having  larger  families  than  were  customary  a 
generation  ago.  One  elderly  social  leader  told  me : 
"In  my  day  the  woman  who  had  only  one  or  two 
children  was  considered  smart.  To-day  a  well- 
informed  woman  may  have  as  many  or  as  few  as 
she  wants.  To  have  several  children  and  give  them 
a  good  start  in  life  is  getting  to  be  the  smart  thing 
to  do."  From  my  own  observation  I  am  coming 
to  believe  that  many  of  our  fine  young  people  to- 
day are  having  enough  children  not  only  to  per- 
petuate the  family  but  to  insure  its  increase,  and 
I  find  it  a  welcome  sign  of  the  times.  It  fits  in 
perfectly  with  our  ideas  for  a  planned  society. 


Anything  that  we  can  do  to  encourage  such  people 
to  have  large  families,  and  anything  we  can  do  to 
prevent  large  families  among  those  at  the  lower 
end  of  the  social  scale — both  these  ought  to  be 
done,  for  they  are  of  the  utmost  social  value. 

All  the  data  above  have  a  direct  bearing  on 
sterilization.  The  prospect  of  somewhat  larger 
families  among  the  highest  class  is  encouraging, 
but  it  cannot  be  looked  to  as  an  adequate  counter- 
poise to  the  unchanging  increase  among  subnor- 
mals. The  differential  birth-rate  will  long  stay 
with  us  as  a  grave  problem.  If — to  look  at  it  on 
one  side  only,  for  the  moment — our  charity  burden 
is  mounting,  and  if  those  who  alone  are  able  to 
shoulder  it  are  not  increasing  proportionately  with 
it,  then  it  would  seem  that  the  more  promptly  we 
take  action  the  better;  the  sooner  we  give  those 
who  want  to  help  themselves  the  means  to  do  it 
with,  the  happier  and  certainly  the  more  imme- 
diate the  effect. 

But  there  is  still  another  inference  to  be  drawn 
from  the  situation,  especially  from  what  has  been 
said  about  the  favorable  tendency  of  the  upper, 
successful  stratum  to  have  families  larger  than 
those  of  the  stratum  just  below  them.  It  shows 
that  there  are  truly  grounds  for  hope,  if  not  for 
optimism.  It  refutes  the  criticism  that  steriliza- 


tion  and  birth-control  are  likely  to  be  the  instru- 
ments of  race-suicide.  As  for  contraception,  we 
know  that  we  cannot  now  take  it  away:  it  is  an 
established  social  practice.  As  for  sterilization, 
it  must  be  established  as  a  social  practice  far  more 
widely  than  it  is  now.  Remove  the  pressure  ex- 
erted by  the  negative  classes  on  the  positive  classes, 
and  this  tendency  toward  adequate  families  among 
the  latter  will  expand  until  it  actuates  all  the  more 
worth-while  groups. 

One  final  word :  my  use  of  such  terms  as  worth 
while  and  useful  in  connection  with  various  social 
classes  must  not  be  misinterpreted.  No  scientist 
interested  in  racial  improvement  dreams  of  insist- 
ing that  we  are  to  weed  out  until  we  have  left  only 
the  wealthy,  or  the  professional,  or  the  highly  in- 
telligent. The  eugenic  ideal  is  far  from  this.  It 
postulates  rather  a  society  in  which  the  merchant 
is  a  good  merchant,  the  college  instructor  a  good 
college  instructor — and  the  brick-layer  a  good 
brick-layer;  each  capable  of  supporting  himself 
and  his  family  and  worthy  to  pass  on  his  good 
character  and  useful  citizenship  to  his  offspring 
through  both  heredity  and  environment.  We  do 
not  ask  that  the  street-sweeper  shall  buy  bonds  or 
read  Greek;  we  do  ask  that  he  spring  from  racially 
adequate  germ-plasm,  and  pass  that  germ-plasm 



along  to  all  the  little  street-sweepers  he  fathers. 
The  best  type  in  every  social  class  must  be  encour- 
aged to  increase;  the  worst  type — the  defective, 
insane,  subnormal,  and  dependent — must  be  al- 
lowed to  die  out.  That  is  what  sterilization  is  for. 






For  years  I  have  been  listening  to  objections 
from  various  kinds  of  persons  who  are  opposed  to 
sterilization.  These  I  have  recorded  and  classified 
according  to  the  number  of  times  that  I  hear  each. 
Some  of  them  are  simple,  terse,  and  pointed ;  others 
are  long-winded  and  verbose.  Some  have  an  ele- 
ment of  reasonableness ;  others  are  of  the  sort  that 
to  the  social  scientist  seem  without  reason.  The 
sixteen  that  are  most  often  heard  will  be  dealt  with 
in  this  and  the  following  chapter. 

The  main,  and  most  seriously  taken  objection 
comes,  as  would  naturally  be  expected,  from  the 
Roman  Catholic  Church.  Its  head,  Pope  Pius  XI, 
has  decreed  against  sterilization,  notably  in  the  en- 
cyclical Casti  Connubii  issued  in  January,  1931. 
That  document  is,  in  general,  the  expression  of  an 
ideal  that  cannot  but  appeal  strongly  to  any  who 
are  eager  for  race  betterment.  More  than  a  ma- 
jority of  its  points,  I  imagine,  find  general  support 
among  biologists  and  sociologists,  as  well  as  among 


adherents  of  non-Catholic  faiths;  though  its  view 
of  sterilization  can,  of  course,  only  encounter  con- 
siderable dissent. 

"The  Family  Is  Paramount/'  Here  is  the  sec- 
tion of  the  encyclical  that  is  most  pertinent  to  our 
subject : 

That  pernicious  practice  must  be  con- 
demned which  closely  touches  upon  the 
natural  right  of  man  to  enter  matrimony 
but  affects  also  in  a  real  way  the  welfare 
of  the  offspring.  For  there  are  some  who, 
over-solicitous  for  the  cause  of  eugenics, 
not  only  give  salutary  counsel  for  more 
certainly  procuring  the  strength  and 
health  of  the  future  child — which,  in- 
deed f  is  not  contrary  to  right  reason — but 
put  eugenics  before  aims  of  a  higher 
order,  and  by  public  authority  wish  to 
prevent  from  marrying  all  those  who, 
even  though  naturally  fit  for  marriage, 
they  consider,  according  to  the  norms  and 
conjectures  of  their  investigations,  would, 
through  hereditary  transmission,  bring 
forth  defective  offspring.  And  more, 


they  wish  to  legislate  to  deprive  these  of 
that  natural  faculty  by  medical  action  de- 
spite their  unwillingness;  and  this  they  do 
not  propose  as  an  infliction  of  grave  pun- 
ishment under  the  authority  of  the  state 
for  a  crime  committed,  nor  to  prevent  fu- 
ture crimes  by  guilty  persons,  but  against 
every  right  and  good  they  wish  the  civil 
authority  to  arrogate  to  itself  a  power 
over  a  faculty  which  they  never  had  and 
can  never  legitimately  possess. 

Those  who  act  in  this  way  are  at  fault 
in  losing  sight  of  the  fact  that  the  family 
is  more  sacred  than  the  state  and  that  men 
are  begotten  not  for  the  earth  and  for 
time,  but  for  Heaven  and  eternity.  Al- 
though often  these  individuals  are  to  be 
dissuaded  from  entering  into  marriage, 
certainly  it  is  wrong  to  brand  men  with 
the  stigma  of  crime  because  they  contract 
marriage,  on  the  ground  that,  despite  the 
fact  that  they  are  in  every  respect  capable 
of  matrimony,  they  will  give  birth  only  to 
defective  children,  even  though  they  use 
all  care  and  diligence. 

Public  magistrates  have  no  direct  right 
over  the  bodies  of  their  subjects;  there- 



fore,  where  no  crime  has  taken  place  and 
there  is  no  cause  present  for  grave  punish- 
ment,  they  can  never  directly  harm,  or 
tamper  with  the  integrity  of  the  body, 
either  for  the  reasons  of  eugenics  or  for 
any  other  reason.  St.  Thomas  teaches  this 
when,  inquiring  whether  human  judges 
for  the  sake  of  preventing  future  evils  can 
inflict  punishment,  he  admits  that  the 
power  indeed  exists  as  regards  certain 
other  forms  of  punishment,  but  justly  and 
properly  denies  it  as  regards  the  maiming 
of  the  body.  "No  one  who  is  guiltless 
may  be  punished  by  a  human  tribunal 
either  by  flogging  to  death,  or  mutilation 
or  by  beating." 

Furthermore,  Christian  doctrine  estab- 
lishes, and  the  light  of  human  reason 
makes  it  most  clear,  that  private  individ- 
uals have  no  power  over  the  members  of 
their  bodies  [other]  than  that  which  per- 
tains to  their  natural  ends;  and  they  are 
not  free  to  destroy  or  mutilate  their  mem- 
bers, or  in  any  other  way  render  them- 
selves unfit  for  their  natural  functions, 
except  when  no  other  provision  can  be 
made  for  the  good  of  the  whole  body. 


Now  any  one  who  has  ever  undertaken  to  criti- 
cize— or  even  to  comment  on — a  religious  subject 
knows  that,  whatever  he  says,  he  will  find  himself 
construed  wrong  in  some  quarters;  and  the  same 
applies  to  any  attempt  to  refute  a  specific  eccle- 
siastical utterance.  It  is  not  my  purpose  in  this 
book  to  discuss  or  criticize  the  position  taken  by 
the  head  of  a  great  faith  beyond  the  point  where 
it  touches  a  scientific  argument.  With  nothing  but 
respect  for  a  viewpoint  that  is  held  by  millions  of 
right  living  people  throughout  the  world  with  no 
animosity  toward  Catholics  as  Catholics,  among 
whom  indeed  I  number  some  of  my  best  friends, 
I  still  urge  that  this  question  must,  if  it  is  to  be  dis- 
cussed at  all,  be  treated  as  a  scientific  question 
rather  than  as  a  theological  or  even  an  ethical  one. 

The  preceding  quotation  is  given  because  it  rep- 
resents a  point  of  view  that,  as  a  result  of  its  pro- 
nouncement, must  be  held  by  very  many  of  my 
fellow  countrymen.  If  this  viewpoint  conflicts 
with  the  laws  now  in  force  in  many  of  our  states 
and  with  the  belief  on  the  part  of  many  who  are 
not  Catholics  that  these  laws  are  just  and  necessary, 
that  they  were  enacted  in  the  interests  of  public 
welfare  and  that  more  of  them  should  be  put  in 
operation,  it  is  the  duty  of  all  who  believe  in  such 
measures  to  state  their  belief  as  clearly  and  impar- 



tially  as  possible.  I  refer,  of  course,  to  the  steri- 
lization laws  that  have  been  passed  in  a  number  of 
states  and  to  which  I  shall  refer  in  another  part  of 
this  book.  Sterilization,  as  its  proponents  see  it, 
is  more  than  a  moral  question.  It  is  an  economic, 
a  social,  a  legal,  a  medical  question  and  in  the  eyes 
of  many  a  help  toward  a  higher  morality. 

The  family  is  paramount?  With  this  we  may 
agree.  The  family's  claims  are  higher  than  the 
states?  With  this  we  need  not  agree. 

The  encyclical  stresses  the  importance  of  the 
family  and  every  social  student  will  concur  in  this 
emphasis.  It  is  the  very  basis  of  our  social  life  and 
its  preservation  in  the  highest  form  is  the  aim  and 
the  ideal  of  practically  every  civilized  society 
throughout  the  entire  world.  Proponents  of  steri- 
lization believe  that  there  are  families  and  families 
— good  ones  and  bad.  The  first  should,  we  urge, 
be  encouraged ;  the  second  made  impossible  in  the 
future.  There  is  nothing  inviolable  in  the  bad 
family.  One  means  toward  the  discriminatory 
weeding  out  of  undesirable  families  is  sterilization. 

The  family  is  not  paramount.  It  is  an  integral 
part  of  the  great  unit  which  we  call  the  state.  Just 
as  the  agriculturist  works  his  farm,  so  the  state  or 
family-culturist  must  cultivate  its  families  by 
seeing  that  the  better  type  of  individuals  are  pre- 



served.  The  farmer  goes  about  his  farm  continu- 
ally alert  to  the  need  of  culturing  the  best  of  the 
living,  growing  elements.  Here  is  a  splendid  corn 
stalk.  Its  great  size  and  high  yield  of  grain  show 
conclusively  that  it  has  been  able  to  do  better  in 
a  similar  environment  than  many  of  its  neighbors. 
It  is  therefore  preserved  through  its  seed.  Here  is 
a  high  testing  cow.  She  must  be  preserved  through 
her  posterity.  Here  is  an  outstandingly  obnoxious 
weed.  It  must  be  destroyed. 

There  are  figs  and  thistles,  grapes  and  thorns, 
wheat  and  tares  in  human  society  and  the  state 
must  practice  family  culture. 

"Sterilization  Will  Prevent  the  Birth  of  Genius." 
Another  objection  that  is  raised  against  steriliza- 
tion— and  against  contraception  as  well — is  that  it 
will  prevent  the  birth  of  genius.  When  the  objec- 
tion is  leveled  at  contraception  there  is  something 
to  be  said  for  it,  since  contraception  is  practiced 
by  the  sort  of  parents  whose  thirteenth  child  might 
be  Benjamin  Franklin,  the  desirable  sort  of  par- 
ents. But  there  is  no  rational  ground  for  the 
objection  in  the  case  of  sterilization  since  the  pro- 
cedure is  urged  only  for  the  kind  who  ought  not 
to  be  the  parents  of  one  child,  let  alone  thirteen. 
Besides,  the  birth  of  genius  is  far  more  effectually 



"prevented"  by  a  number  of  other  factors  already, 
taboos  that  for  the  most  part  go  unchallenged. 
Take  certain  recognized  marriage  taboos,  for  in- 
stance. Under  one  of  these  an  unmarried  woman 
is  not  supposed  to  have  children ;  yet  who  can  say 
how  many  geniuses  might  not  be  produced  if  this 
taboo  could  be  removed?  It  is  of  course  prepos- 
terous to  assume  that  it  would  be  a  wise  sociologi- 
cal step  or  correct  ethically  for  unmarried  women 
to  produce  children  on  the  chance  that  some  of 
them  might  be  geniuses.  But  if  the  opponents  of 
sterilization  really  want  to  encourage  the  birth  of 
genius  they  might  do  well  to  consider  this  point. 
Probably  the  top  one  percent  of  the  population 
produces  as  much  genius  as  all  the  other  99  percent. 
Speaking  of  thirteenth  children  brings  to  mind 
the  figures  which  have  been  publicized  in  regard 
to  the  chances  of  survival  according  to  birth  rank. 
These  figures  have  been  interpreted  in  various 
ways,  some  of  them  rightly  and  some  wrongly  in 
my  humble  estimation.  As  you  will  see  in  inspect- 
ing them,  the  twelfth  child  has  but  little  chance 
to  survive  compared  with  the  first  or  third.  But 
this  entirely  leaves  out  of  consideration  any  ap- 
proximation of  the  mentality  of  the  family  which 
to-day  produces  twelve  children,  after  they  have 
watched  one  after  another  of  them  die. 


OF  EACH  1000  CHILDREN  : 

115  die  if  they  are  first  children. 
200  die  if  they  are  sixth  children. 
300  die  if  they  are  twelfth  children. 
395  die  if  they  are  fifteenth  children. 

Probably  the  fathers  and  mothers  who  have  had 
the  large  families  and  have  reared  so  few  of  the 
children  are  not  those  who  can  be  counted  on  to 
produce  genius.  They  would  probably  welcome 

Besides,  no  one  is  suggesting  the  sterilization  of 
the  kind  of  people  from  whom  we  may  reasonably 
expect  geniuses  to  be  born.  The  stock  from  which 
genius  springs  is  not  degenerate,  and  it  is  the  de- 
generate whom  it  is  proposed  to  sterilize.  It  is 
admittedly  possible  (though  rare)  for  genius  to  be 
born  from  insane  parentage;  it  is  highly  improba- 
ble, to  put  it  mildly,  for  genius  to  be  born  from 
feeble-minded  parentage.  Great  men  have  risen 
from  unfortunate  environments;  they  have  practi- 
cally never  risen  from  defective  germ-plasm. 

That  the  objectors  on  this  score  have  little  to  fear 
is  proved  by  the  studies  of  Dr.  Louis  Terman,  Dr. 
Catherine  Cox  Miles,  and  Professor  Raymond 
Pearl.  Dr.  Terman  chose  for  study  the  thousand 
most  brilliant  children  in  the  California  schools. 
Among  the  facts  discovered  was  this:  that  66% 



of  these  children  came  from  fathers  who  were 
either  professional  men  or  engaged  in  the  higher 
types  of  occupation,  and  that  only  one  child  was 
the  offspring  of  unskilled  labor — this  father  being 
an  ambitious  man  who  had  moved  his  family  to 
Berkeley  so  that  the  children  could  go  to  college, 
and  who  had  taken  a  job  on  a  farm  in  order  to 
build  up  his  health  and  also  to  tide  him  over  while 
he  was  looking  for  better  work. 

Dr.  Miles  made  a  study  of  the  three  hundred 
greatest  geniuses  of  history,  and  found  that  80% 
of  them  sprang  from  professional  men  and  those 
engaged  in  the  higher  occupations,  and  that  only 
i%  came  from  unskilled  labor. 

Professor  Pearl  of  Johns  Hopkins  studied  the 
biographies  of  all  persons  included  in  the  Ency- 
clopaedia Britannica  important  enough  to  be  given 
each  an  entire  page  or  more,  trying  to  determine 
how  many  of  these  had  sons  who  were  also  included 
in  the  work.  For  instance,  there  were  63  philoso- 
phers, of  whom  only  18  were  recorded  as  having 
married;  but  three  of  the  sons  from  these  18  mar- 
riages (a  ratio  of  6  to  i )  got  into  the  Encyclopedia. 
Or,  if  we  take  the  whole  number  of  philosophers 
treated — that  is,  60  without  sons,  3  with — the  ratio 
becomes  21  to  i.  Compare  either  ratio  with  what 
we  find  in  the  population  at  large:  does  one  son 


among  every  6  (or  even  21)  fathers  get  into  the 
Encyclopedia  Britannica?  "Like  father,  like 
son."  To  conclude,  I  may  say  that  there  is  as  little 
chance  that  you  can  breed  genius  out  of  subnormals 
as  that  you  can  breed  a  Man  of  War  out  of  a  line 
of  Shetland  ponies. 

"We  Know  Too  Little  as  Yet."  The  objection 
heard  next  oftenest  is  that  our  knowledge  of  hered- 
ity is  not  yet  complete  or  accurate  enough  to  war- 
rant us  in  doing  much  sterilization,  hardly  more 
than  a  few  subjects  here  and  there.  To  this  I  reply 
merely  that  it  isn't  so.  We  have  three  ways  of 
deciding  when  sterilization  is  indicated.  First,  it 
is  possible  to  recognize  the  great  majority  of  de- 
generacy-carriers because  they  commonly  exhibit 
the  signs.  Second,  a  study  of  near  kin  will  help  us : 
if  we  find  that  Grandmother  and  Uncle  Rob,  Aunt 
Hattie  and  Cousin  Randolph  and  Mother's  brother 
Bill  were  all  feeble-minded,  it  is  a  safe  bet  that 
Mother  is  a  carrier;  she  inherits  the  germ-plasm 
that  has  shown  itself  capable  of  producing  a  good 
many  feeble-minded  out  of  the  few  chances  that 
it  had  to  show  what  it  could  do.  Third,  we  are 
able  to  judge  by  the  first  or  the  second  child  in  a 
family.  If  a  couple  have  produced  two  feeble- 
minded children,  and  the  index  of  near  kin  shows 
that  there  has  been  a  lot  of  feeble-mindedness  on 


both  sides,  then  surely  this  couple  should  not  be 
allowed  to  launch  any  more  children  into  the 
world,  even  though  the  chances  are  only  one  in 
four  that  the  next  child  will  be  feeble-minded. 
These  three  criteria  give  us  ample  ground  on 
which  to  set  up  a  sterilization  policy.  In  any  in- 
stance in  which  there  might  be  doubt  whether 
sterilization  is  called  for,  the  three  could  be  ap- 
plied simultaneously.  If  a  family  will  apply  them 
to  its  own  case  it  can  readily  decide  whether  there 
ought  to  be  any  more  children,  or  for  that  matter 
whether  the  man  and  his  wife  ought  to  have  any 
children  at  all. 

It  is  characteristic  of  those  who  protest  that  "we 
know  too  little  as  yet"  to  urge  us  also  to  "wait  and 
see."  Another  usual  corollary  is  that  sterilization 
isn't  proved  to  be  necessary  at  the  present  time. 
This  is  a  line  of  argument  that  we  find  presented 
by  Dr.  J.  H.  Landman,  whose  position  I  should 
like  to  discuss  here.  His  book,  Human  Steriliza- 
tion? indicates  that  he  has  made  use  of  a  valuable 
contribution  to  the  subject  written  by  Dr.  Neil  A. 
Dayton.2  The  tables  in  Dr.  Dayton's  paper  show 

1  New  York,  1932. 

2  Mortality  in  Mental  Deficiency  over  a  Fourteen-year  Period 
in  Massachusetts.    Proceedings  of  the  American  Assn.  for  the 
Study  of  the  Feeble-minded,  vol.  36,  1931. 



that  the  idiots  and  the  imbeciles  have  so  high  a 
death-rate  that  there  is  but  little  likelihood  of  their 
leaving  enough  descendants  to  perpetuate  them- 
selves as  groups.  We  learned  this  also  from  the 
California  studies.  But  if  Dr.  Landman  had  read 
Dr.  Dayton's  work  carefully  he  would  have  seen 
that  Dr.  Dayton  says  that  the  morons  are  the  ones 
who  do  live,  and  that  the  death-rate  of  males  and 
females  averages  about  the  same  as  that  of  the  gen- 
eral population.  It  has  not  to  my  knowledge  been 
suggested  by  advocates  of  sterilization,  that  the 
idiots  and  imbeciles  are  perpetuating  their  kind 
enough  to  increase  as  a  group.  We  have  already 
seen  that  they  come  predominantly  from  the  moron 
and  the  border-line  classes.  This  objection  is 

"There  is  nothing  to  worry  about — let  us  wait." 
Another  very  important  objection,  but  one  not 
so  often  raised,  is  that  there  is  not  much  to  worry 
about.  Dr.  Landman  mentions  me  as  a  pessimistic 
eugenicist  because  I  say  that  we  are  breeding  from 
the  bottom.  But  the  doctor  forgets  that  I  have 
offered  a  remedy,  whereas  he  thinks  that  nothing 
much  can  be  done  about  it.  Which  of  us  two,  I 
ask,  is  the  pessimist?  He  would  show  that  the  be- 
liefs and  claims  of  eugenicists  are  more  or  less 



groundless.  But  he  has  founded  his  belief  on  the 
studies  already  dealt  with — studies  which  assumed 
that  feeble-mindedness  is  a  simple  Mendelian  char- 
acter. He,  like  so  many  others,  is  an  apostle  of 
the  god  WAIT.  "Wait  until  we  know  more ;  science 
doesn't  know  enough  yet."  Every  time  I  hear  that 
objection,  I  feel  like  taking  my  pen  and  writing : 
"It  isn't  that  science  doesn't  know  enough.  The 
trouble  is  that  the  critic  doesn't  know  how  much 
science  really  does  know." 

As  a  matter  of  fact,  science  never  really  will 
know  all  we  wish  it  could  demonstrate  to  us.  No 
matter  how  much  we  progress,  there  will  always 
be  those  worshipers  of  WAIT.  I  can't  help  quot- 
ing Dr.  Leonard  Darwin  in  this  regard:  "To  prove 
that  our  powers  of  doing  good  are  limited  to  cer- 
tain directions  has  always  appeared  to  me  to  be  the 
feeblest  of  all  excuses  for  neglecting  to  do  such 
good  as  is  open  to  us!" 

"The  Wrong  Persons  Will  Get  Sterilized."  In 
line  with  the  objection  that  we  cannot  know  who 
are  the  right  persons  to  be  sterilized  is  the  next: 
that  the  wrong  persons  will  have  the  operation 
performed  on  them.  Who,  we  are  asked,  is  going 
to  be  selected  to  pass  judgment?  The  objection  re- 
veals, on  the  part  of  those  who  make  it,  a  less  than 



sufficient  understanding  of  the  procedure  now  fol- 
lowed in  the  States  in  which  sterilization  is  already 
authorized  by  law.  They  raise  in  their  minds  a 
bugaboo  that  has  not  and  never  could  have  any  real 
existence:  the  vision  of  some  beautiful  and  culti- 
vated woman,  say,  who  somehow  has  incurred  the 
malice  of  a  person  of  influence,  and  who  now  stands 
before  the  bench  of  yet  another  vindictive  and 
powerful  authority  who  is  empowered  to  say 
whether  or  not  her  line  may  go  on.  But  nobody 
who  knows  anything  about  the  subject  dreams  of 
setting  up  any  legal  procedure  in  which  a  risk  like 
this  could  arise.  It  is  proposed  to  authorize  and 
permit  the  sterilization  of  the  subnormal  only,  and 
— as  has  often  been  said — "You  can  tell  them  walk- 
ing down  the  street."  You  can.  The  feeble- 
minded shuffle  along,  looking  half-dead  a  good 
deal  of  the  time,  wearing  the  expression  of  lethar- 
gic despair  that  we  visualize  when  we  read  The 
Man  with  the  Hoe.  A  few  of  them  are  content, 
as  animals  are  content;  a  few  are  even  cheerful, 
and  able  to  do  elementary  tasks ;  but  even  these  for 
the  most  part  can  be  identified  positively  through 
mental  tests  and  observation. 

Should  sterilization  ever  become  compulsory, 
there  will  be  practically  no  chance  even  then  for 
the  wrong  person  to  get  sterilized.  A  committee 



of  experts  would  examine  any  person  whom  it  was 
proposed  to  sterilize,  and  geneticists  would  pass  on 
the  desirability  of  his  being  allowed  to  reproduce; 
and  the  ultimate  decision  would  in  practically  all 
cases  be  as  fair  and  as  certain  as  any  human  deci- 
sion ever  can  be.  There  would,  of  course,  be 
doubtful  cases,  and  these  would  be  given  the  benefit 
of  the  doubt.  The  only  persons  actually  sterilized 
would  be  those  about  whom  there  has  been  no  diffi- 
culty in  deciding. 

"The  Sterilizing  Power  Would  Be  Abused!' 
Here  is  another  bugaboo:  there  would  be  times 
when  the  power  would  be  abused.  Well,  there 
might.  But  when  one  admits  this,  one  is  admitting 
merely  something  that  characterizes  every  aspect 
of  the  police  power  of  the  state.  Authority  of  any 
kind  is  abused,  often,  but  this  does  not  deter  the 
body  politic  from  vesting  authority  in  certain  offi- 
cials whose  job  is  the  administration  of  measures 
that  in  themselves  are  right.  In  anticipation  of 
this  very  danger,  a  part  of  the  sterilization  pro- 
gram is  the  setting-up  of  a  series  of  checks,  such 
as  we  have  already  seen  at  work  in  Carrie  Buck's 
case  and  that  of  our  hypothetical  Mary  in  Idaho. 
Anyhow,  what  would  happen  to  the  official  who 
took  advantage  of  his  authority  to  order  steriliza- 



tion  for  somebody  who  didn't  need  it?  Public 
attack  would  be  prompt,  and  from  high  enough 
quarters  to  assure  him  the  loss  of  his  prestige  and 
perhaps  even  of  his  job  itself.  Besides,  the  only 
persons  who  ought  to  be  given  this  power  of  de- 
cision are  scientists — trained  to  arrive  at  judgments 
without  fear  or  favor.  Scientists  take  their  work 
seriously;  anybody  who  has  had  any  scientists 
among  his  friends  will  bear  witness  to  this.  And 
scientists  are  not  going  to  risk  making  mistakes. 

But  what  if  they  do?  Suppose  that  once  in  a 
while  they  do  fall  into  error.  Ah,  it  is  here  that 
our  existing  laws  have  proved  to  be  so  wise.  Be- 
fore the  operation  can  be  carried  out,  the  patient 
has  the  full  opportunity  to  present  his  case  in  court. 
All  sorts  of  safeguards  are  thrown  about  him,  as 
we  saw  in  the  Buck  case.  Already  we  have  a  good 
many  scientific  men  whom  we  can  trust,  and  the 
more  sterilizations  there  are  in  the  future,  the 
greater  will  be  our  proportion  of  high-grade  men. 
As  you  lop  off  stupidity  and  insanity  you  auto- 
matically increase  the  proportion  of  ability. 

Finally:  we  are  willing  to  trust  human  lives  to 
our  courts  in  the  matter  of  capital  punishment;  why 
not,  then,  in  something  far  less  serious?  Certainly 
an  error  in  a  sterilization  order  is  less  repugnant 
to  our  notions  of  justice  than  the  execution  of  an 



innocent  man,  a  chance  that  we  all  face  without 
getting  excited. 

"Sterilization  Will  Increase  Immorality."  This 
objection  stands  sixth  on  my  list,  in  the  order  of 
frequency.  Well,  one  can  easily  see  how  a  man 
who  has  been  sterilized  might,  now  that  he  is  rid 
of  the  need  for  caution,  tend  to  become  sexually 
promiscuous.  But  among  the  men  of  my  acquaint- 
ance who  have  had  the  operation  I  know  of  none 
who  has  been  affected  in  this  way.  Anyhow,  isn't 
it  a  pretty  shameful  assumption  that  the  only  rea- 
son why  men  ever  refrain  from  wrongdoing  is  that 
they  are  afraid  of  its  consequences?  That  we 
would  all  of  us  rush  into  infractions  of  all  the 
Commandments  if  we  weren't  afraid  of  being  pun- 
ished? That  there  are  no  other,  nobler  motives  for 
behaving  ourselves  decently? 

Besides,  there  are  already  available  to  the  pro- 
miscuously-inclined so  many  effective  contracep- 
tive methods  that  I  doubt  whether  this  "danger" 
is  any  very  new  one.  Yet  I  would  not  deny  that 
the  objection  has  some  weight.  There  is  a  possi- 
bility, of  course,  that  in  some  directions  immoral- 
ity will  increase  following  on  sterilization.  Take, 
for  instance,  the  feeble-minded  girl  on  the  records 
of  a  certain  Massachusetts  institution,  who  had 



been  given  her  freedom  eight  times  and  each  time 
had  come  back  to  present  the  institution  with  an- 
other baby,  as  subnormal  as  herself.  Eventually 
the  authorities  got  tired  of  rearing  small  imbeciles 
for  this  girl  and  decided  to  commit  her  perma- 
nently until  after  her  menopause.  Now  suppose 
that,  instead,  she  had  been  sterilized,  and  knew  it. 
She  didn't  really  want  a  single  one  of  those  babies. 
Which  ought  we  to  consider  the  more  immoral — 
bringing  into  the  world  eight  children  of  defective 
parentage,  returning  home  for  several  months  in 
between  and  having  promiscuous  intercourse,  or 
staying  at  home  all  the  time,  working  at  some  sim- 
ple task,  having  promiscuous  intercourse  whenever 
she  wants  to,  but  having  no  children  as  the  result 
of  it? 

It  seems  to  me  that  the  latter  is  immeasurably 
preferable,  even  though  the  total  amount  of  her 
promiscuity  should  become  greater. 

One  point  that  few  objectors  think  of  in  this  con- 
nection is  that  the  woman  by  herself  cannot  be 
"promiscuous."  The  men  who  are  her  partners 
must  also  be  borne  in  mind :  if  they  are  the  kind 
who  indulge  in  that  sort  of  thing,  then  the  mere 
fact  that  one  girl  has  been  sent  away  to  an  institu- 
tion is  not  going  to  discourage  them.  Whereas, 
if  that  girl  were  sterilized  she  might  make  a  good 



wife  for  some  man  who  would  be  delighted  that 
she  was  sterile.  Some  persons  go  on  to  say  that, 
being  at  liberty,  this  girl  would  spread  venereal 
disease ;  but  I  believe  that  if  we  were  able  to  survey 
a  thousand  such  cases  and  tabulate  their  subsequent 
behavior,  we  should  find  that  actually  so  many  of 
them  have  married  that  this  menace  has  been 
materially  limited. 

But  suppose  we  grant  that  with  some  persons 
the  knowledge  that  they  were  sterile  'would  lead 
them  into  immorality;  we  should  have  to  remem- 
ber that  there  is  always  something  on  the  wrong 
side  of  the  ledger  in  every  worth-while  social 
agency.  If  we  could  tabulate  and  describe  the  im- 
morality that  can  be  traced  directly  to  the  automo- 
bile, we  might  be  astonished.  The  automobile  has 
unquestionably  led  to  a  great  increase  in  crime  by 
making  it  easier  and  safer;  it  has  offered  new  op- 
portunities to  certain  types  of  sexual  immorality; 
it  has  led  many  people  to  spend  money  that  they 
couldn't  afford  to  spend.  Isn't  all  this  "increasing 
immorality"?  But  does  that  mean  that  we  ought 
to  scrap  all  the  motor-cars?  Of  course  not;  they 
have  too  much  to  their  credit  on  the  right  side  of 
the  ledger.  With  every  novelty  introduced  into 
life,  we  have  to  balance  its  good  effects  against  its 



bad  ones ;  and  in  sterilization  I  believe  the  balance 
to  be  on  the  side  of  the  good. 

"The  Sterilized  Will  Be  Exploited."  Objectors 
say  that  the  low-grade  feeble-minded  girl  will  con- 
tinually be  taken  advantage  of  if  she  is  sterilized 
and  given  her  liberty.  But  they  forget  that  the 
low-grade  feeble-minded  are  not  to  be  "given  their 
liberty" ;  because  they  cannot  cope  with  the  normal 
world,  they  must  be  kept  housed  continuously. 
For  such,  sterilization  is  hardly  worth  while  be- 
cause it  is  not  called  for.  But  it  is  called  for  in 
the  case  of  most  of  the  feeble-minded  living  outside 
of  institutions — in  private  homes,  on  farms,  and  so 
on — and  in  the  situation  these  are  in  at  present 
there  is  (under  existing  conditions)  exactly  the 
danger  feared:  they  are  taken  advantage  of,  and 
with  disastrous  results  which  would  be  avoided  if 
they  were  sterilized. 

"Gland  Treatments  Will  Serve  Just  as  Well." 
We  ought  not  to  sterilize,  so  I  am  often  told,  be- 
cause if  we  wait  a  few  years  so  much  progress  will 
have  been  made  in  gland  treatment  that  we  can 
remedy  all  our  troubles  by  injections  of  hormones 
and  their  derivatives.  Many  intelligent  people 
have  brought  this  point  forward ;  but  it  represents 



a  negative  medical  view.  The  fallacy  gave  con- 
siderable trouble,  I  recall,  in  the  "Fitter  Family" 
contests  instituted  by  the  American  Eugenics  Soci- 
ety in  order  to  stimulate  interest  in  family  and 
heredity.  Numerous  families  competed  for  the 
honor  of  being  adjudged  the  "best."  First  of  all 
there  were  rounded  up  a  large  staff  of  doctors, 
dentists,  psychologists,  public  health  officials, 
nurses,  and  so  forth.  Then  we  had  each  member 
of  the  competing  families  examined  as  carefully 
as  possible.  Well,  in  nearly  every  case  the  persons 
whom  we  found  we  ought  to  educate  were  the  doc- 
tor and  the  dentist!  What  we  were  looking  for, 
of  course,  was  high  physical  and  mental  qualities ; 
but  if  a  woman  had  had  a  breast  amputated  and 
the  scar  showed  that  the  surgeon  had  done  a  fine 
operation,  our  examining  physician  was  likely  to 
give  her  a  perfect  score.  The  same  with  the  den- 
tist, who  rejoiced  when  he  found  a  person  with 
an  entire  set  of  false  teeth.  He  would  examine  the 
plate  and,  if  the  work  had  been  done  beautifully 
and  skillfully,  if  it  fitted  the  mouth  perfectly,  he 
would  put  down  100  for  the  teeth  score — whereas 
he  should  have  awarded  a  goose-egg.  Fortunately 
this  medical  attitude  is  changing. 

It  is  only  short-sighted  medical  opinion  that 
looks  toward  cures  and  treatments   rather  than 



toward  prevention.  The  really  fine  body  is  the 
one  that  does  not  require  medical  care.  Our  ideal 
to-day  is  prevention,  and  those  who  advocate  steri- 
lization are  looking  toward  prevention.  To  these 
persons,  the  very  thought  of  administering  daily 
or  weekly  hypodermic  injections  to  keep  the  sub- 
ject from  insanity  or  feeble-mindedness  is  repel- 
lent. If  you  know  any  diabetic  person  who  from 
childhood  onward  has  had  to  have  periodic  injec- 
tions of  insulin,  you  realize  what  a  task  it  gets  to 
be  before  long.  To  elderly  persons,  of  course, 
whose  need  for  the  treatment  comes  on  in  later 
life,  insulin  injections  are  a  godsend.  But  to  bring 
babies  into  the  world  condemned  to  the  gland- 
treatment  regimen  for  some  defect  is  unthinkable, 
especially  since  it  is  quite  possible  to  avoid  giving 
life  to  them  at  all.  Once  the  baby  arrives,  give 
him  the  necessary  treatment,  by  all  means ;  but  in 
Heaven's  name  let's  not  bring  him  into  the  world 
knowing  that  he  is  going  to  need  it!  The  Rev. 
George  Reid  Andrews  expressed  this  ideal  suc- 
cinctly in  a  sermon:  "We  should  insist  that  the 
production  of  babies  be  at  least  as  carefully 
guarded  as  their  preservation"  If  we  begin  think- 
ing about  production  a  little  more,  and  think  about 
it  in  connection  with  the  after-care  that  certain 
types  of  children  will  inevitably  need,  we  shall  be 



approaching  the  time  when  every  person  interested 
in  race  betterment  will  be  satisfied.  That  time 
cannot  come  too  soon. 

"Sterilization  Is  Class  Legislation."  The  United 
States  Constitution  forbids  class  legislation,  and 
we  are  told  that  what  we  are  urging  is  class  legis- 
lation. So  it  is,  in  a  sense;  but  not  in  the  sense 
that  the  Fathers  of  the  Constitution  had  in  mind. 
They  were  not  thinking  of  "class"  in  its  biological 
sense;  they  meant  religious  and  political  class — 
the  Methodists,  the  poor,  farmers,  Democrats. 
But  in  every  one  of  these  classes  we  find  degener- 
ates, who  may  be  said  to  constitute  a  class  only  in 
an  arbitrary  sense.  This  is  a  class  determined  by 
mental  and  emotional  level.  That  sterilization 
laws  are  not  "class  legislation"  in  the  forbidden 
sense  was  settled  by  the  Supreme  Court  in  Carrie 
Buck's  case.  Had  they  been  this,  the  case  would 
hardly  have  been  settled  as  it  was,  and  almost 

Suppose,  however,  that  sterilization  laws  are 
"class  legislation."  What  of  it?  We  already  have 
plenty  of  "class  legislation"  of  this  kind.  We  vac- 
cinate a  "class"  of  children — those  who  have  not 
been  vaccinated  before.  We  legislate  to  move  a 
"class" — slum-dwellers — out  of  their  bad  environ- 



ment  and  into  a  good  one,  building  decent  homes 
for  them  to  live  in.  Many  an  approved  social 
activity  to-day  could  be  called  "class  legislation," 
and  yet  we  wouldn't  dream  of  abolishing  it. 






Some  of  the  opponents  of  sterilization  express 
their  fears  that  after  birth  control  and  sterilization, 
or  perhaps  in  connection  with  it,  there  will  come 
the  lethal  chamber,  and  that  the  outlook  is  a  black 
one  for  mentally  deficient  persons.  In  the  place  of 
sterilization  they  suggest  instead  that  defectives  be 
maintained  in  institutions  until  they  have  become 
trained,  and  then  be  turned  out  and  allowed  to 
marry  and  reproduce.  At  least  one  book  has  been 
written  expressing  these  fears. 

Will  sterilization  laws  lead  straight  to  legis- 
lation establishing  the  practice  of  "euthanasia"? 
That  idea  has  not  been  without  its  advocates 
among  estimable  members  of  society.  In  any 
case,  I  never  heard  or  read  a  single  statement  from 
any  proponent  of  sterilization  that  suggested  the 
lethal  chamber  as  the  next  social  amenity;  though 
perhaps  what  the  writer  means  is  that,  once  a 
law  is  put  through  empowering  certain  people  to 
make  other  people  sterile,  the  way  will  open  broad 



and  easy  to  further  laws  empowering  them  to  make 
other  people  die. 

It  is  somewhat  difficult  to  take  this  objection 
seriously  in  view  of  the  agitation  against  the  death 
penalty  and  in  view  of  compulsory  insurance, 
medical  laws  and  the  present  day  agitation  against 
war.  A  great  many  indications  show  that  as  social 
consciousness  increases,  respect  for  human  life 
grows  with  it.  Furthermore  from  any  but  the  most 
ultra  conservative  point  of  view  it  is  distinctly 
arguable  whether  sterilization  could  be  called 
tampering  with  human  life  and  whether  we  owe 
the  coming  of  subnormal  babies  to  any  one  but  our- 
selves. It  emanates  from  intelligent  people  by  the 
thousand,  none  the  less.  "God  sent  these  poor  un- 
fortunates, and  it  is  our  duty  to  take  care  of  them." 
Is  this,  one  may  ask,  supposed  to  imply  also  allow- 
ing them  to  grow  up  and  bear  other  unfortunates 
like  themselves?  Isn't  our  "duty"  to  them  satisfac- 
torily fulfilled  when  we  pour  out  the  public  funds, 
and  dip  down  into  our  own  pockets  to  swell  chari- 
table funds,  in  order  to  keep  these  subnormal  peo- 
ple alive  and  comfortable?  Is  there  any  failure  to 
"care  for"  them  in  the  mere  act  of  making  sure 
that  they  cannot  reproduce?  For  this  is  all  that 
the  sterilization  advocates  propose. 

These  objectors  often  go  on  to  say  that  it  is 


"natural"  for  these  subnormals  to  exist  in  human 
society ;  that  it  would  be  "unnatural"  to  try  to  re- 
duce their  numbers  gradually.  Such  an  argument 
proves  a  sad  ignorance  of  the  ways  of  Nature,  for 
if  there  is  one  thing  evident  in  the  natural  world 
it  is  the  tendency  for  those  creatures  that  are  too 
feeble  for  self-support  to  die  off.  Go  into  the 
woods,  where  civilization  has  not  yet  interfered 
with  Nature,  and  try  to  find  some  defectives.  You 
will  find  an  albino  animal  here  and  there,  and  a 
few  that  are  struggling  along  with  some  other  slight 
defect  that  is  bound  eventually  to  defeat  them  in 
the  fight  for  existence ;  but  you  will  find  that  these 
animals,  born  with  traits  that  unfit  them  for  sur- 
vival, seldom  live  long  enough  to  reproduce.  Na- 
ture, who  seems  cruel  in  this  respect,  is  really  kind. 
But  she  is  kind  in  her  own  "natural"  way,  not  in 
our  artificial  human  way :  she  lets  these  defectives 
die  off,  not  go  on  living  and  producing  other  de- 
fectives. If  an  imperfect  bird  or  rabbit  is  born,  it 
dies.  If  an  imperfect  child  is  born,  we  hesitate  at 
anything  so  "unnatural"  as  preventing  its  reproduc- 
tion. In  Nature,  the  defect  ends  with  its  victim. 
In  civilization,  the  defect  is  allowed  to  multiply 
itself  a  hundredfold  even  unto  the  third  and  fourth 
generation.  Yet  some  of  us  believe,  with  Justice 
Holmes,  that  "three  generations  of  imbeciles  is 



enough."  And  I  may  allow  Charles  Darwin  to 
say  the  final  word  on  this  question  of  naturalness. 
"The  war  of  Nature  is  not  incessant,  no  fear  is  felt, 
death  is  generally  prompt,  and  the  happy  and  the 
healthy  survive  and  multiply." 

Since  the  "unnatural"  objection  is  often  raised 
by  persons  with  conservative  ideas  on  the  sub- 
ject, I  may  here  cite  two  comments  that  have 
reached  me  from  the  opposite  schools  of  thought. 
I  met  a  young  friend  who  had  seen  something 
which  shocked  him  greatly.  He  told  me  about  a 
family  of  six  children  that  he  had  recently  run 
across,  every  one  of  them  blind.  He  protested, 
"Such  a  thing  should  not  be  allowed  to  happen!" 
And  I  agreed.  Nor  would  it  have  happened  if 
there  were  a  law  permitting  sterilization  to  any 
who  apply  for  it. 

The  next  story  representing  the  other  side  of 
the  question  comes  to  me  from  a  woman  ac- 
quaintance. To  a  friend  one  day  she  read  aloud 
a  newspaper  story  from  a  New  Jersey  city  that 
shocked  her  profoundly.  The  friend,  however, 
was  not  shocked.  She  was  a  woman  of  the  most 
highly  intelligent  sort,  daughter  of  one  of  our  most 
distinguished  artists,  but  strongly  bound  by  the 
teachings  by  which  she  had  been  brought  up.  The 
item  reported  that  a  New  Jersey  woman  had  just 



borne  her  sixteenth  child  in  sixteen  years — and  not 
one  of  the  earlier  fifteen  babies  had  lived  to  the 
time  of  the  next  one's  birth.  My  friend  com- 
mented: "How  much  better  if  that  woman  had 
spaced  her  babies,  had  only  four,  say,  and  brought 
them  all  up  to  useful  maturity!"  "Not  at  all/'  was 
her  opponent's  retort;  "she  has  done  her  duty  in 
bringing  sixteen  little  souls  into  the  world,  whether 
they  lived  or  not.  Her  duty  is  not  the  bearing  of  a 
few  who  may  grow  up  to  be  good  citizens ;  it  is  the 
bearing  of  many — as  many  as  possible — to  become 
immortal  souls." 

Here  and  on  the  previous  page  are  two  clear 
illustrations  of  conflicting  points  of  view  by  equally 
conscientious  and  scrupulous  persons.  The  advo- 
cate of  sterilization  would  say  regarding  the  last 
case  that  here  not  even  contraception,  probably, 
would  secure  good  social  ends,  if  the  heredity  or 
the  environment  represented  by  that  mother  was 
such  that  apparently  none  of  her  babies  was  viable ; 
that  rather  the  case  called  for  sterilization. 

"Our  Existing  Laws  Are  Not  Being  Used!' 
Sterilization,  it  is  sometimes  argued,  would  be  im- 
practicable even  if  we  succeeded  in  legalizing  it  all 
over  the  country,  because  many  of  the  States  that 
have  laws  already  do  not  enforce  them — proving 



that  public  sentiment  in  those  localities  is  actually 
opposed  to  the  procedure.  I  have  already  dis- 
cussed the  reasons  for  the  occasional  lapses  in  ad- 
ministering the  law;  they  are  not  sentimental — 
they  are  political.  Many  a  superintendent  of  a 
State  institution  would  like  to  resort  to  the  opera- 
tion oftener  than  he  dares  to  do  under  existing  con- 
ditions; if  he  descries  in  the  middle  distance  a 
political  or  religious  bloc  that  is  opposed  to  the 
law,  he  is  naturally  likely  to  watch  his  job.  And 
this  sort  of  thing  will  always  go  on,  probably,  more 
or  less,  man  being  a  political  animal.  My  own 
opinion  is  that  it  is  bound  to  go  on,  anyway,  wher- 
ever the  law  is  a  compulsory  one. 

"Segregation  Will  Serve  as  Well!'  Some  of 
those  who  consider  sterilization  uncalled  for  do  so 
because  they  feel  that  we  should  gain  the  desired 
ends  equally  well  by  establishing  segregation  colo- 
nies in  which  mental  defectives  could  be  kept  all 
their  lives.  It  is  not  an  unworthy  suggestion,  and 
in  an  earlier  day  than  ours  has  been  practicable. 
But  it  is  out  of  the  question  by  now.  The  initial 
expense  would  be  staggering,  however  justified  in 
the  end.  To  make  it  at  all  possible,  we  should 
have  to  try  to  get  enough  productive  labor  out  of 
the  inmates  to  pay  a  part  of  their  maintenance, 



and  this  would  bring  a  terrific  howl  from  organ- 
ized labor,  the  same  kind  of  howl  that  rises  when- 
ever the  State  undertakes  to  sell  prison-made 
articles  on  the  open  market. 

But  the  decisive  reply  to  this  objection  is  that 
while  segregation  is  excellent  and  we  need  more 
of  it,  it  does  not  meet  the  real  danger.  The  real 
danger  lies,  as  we  have  seen,  in  the  border-line 
group,  and  there  are  too  many  of  these  to  segre- 
gate. If  we  could  place  about  10,000,000  in  segre- 
gation camps,  the  plan  might  be  worth  a  trial. 
But  immediately  comes  another  thought :  Wouldn't 
this  vast  army  want  to  have  their  wives  and  hus- 
bands living  with  them?  Imagine  erecting  colo- 
nies, separating  families,  and  keeping  such  people 
satisfied  with  their  lot!  The  only  alternative  would 
be  to  establish  colonies,  sterilize  one  of  each  cou- 
ple, and  let  them  live  together  without  the  constant 
risk  of  unwanted  babies. 

But  why,  in  that  case,  establish  colonies  at  all? 
From  the  viewpoint  of  a  planned  society,  it  would 
be  equally  feasible  and  far  more  advantageous  to 
allow  the  border-liners  to  live  in  places  where  they 
could  do  some  useful  labor,  have  perhaps  one  or 
two  children,  and  then  be  given  the  means  of  stop- 
ping at  that  point.  Society  would  thus  gradually 
dispose  of  them. 



"Sterilization  is  Injustice''  Is  it  unjust  to  ster- 
ilize, as  some  argue?  I  believe  that  I  have  shown 
that  there  is  no  injustice  in  it.  The  state  may 
compel  the  individual  to  do  a  good  many  things 
that  make  him  feel  unjustly  treated,  the  principle 
being  that  his  rights  are  subordinate  to  those  of  the 
body  politic  when  the  aim  is  the  public  welfare. 
The  drunken  driver  objects  when  he  is  arrested — 
he  "has  a  right  to  get  drunk."  The  insane  crimi- 
nal objects  to  a  jail  sentence,  because  he  "hasn't 
done  anything  wrong."  And  many  a  mother  ob- 
jected (rightly,  in  my  opinion)  to  having  her  boy 
conscripted  and  sent  to  France.  But  the  state 
argues  that  all  these  measures  are  designed  for  its 

Even  so,  the  sterilization  of  a  defective,  espe- 
cially one  who  has  asked  that  it  be  done,  is  not  an 
injustice.  The  Supreme  Court  decision  voiced  the 
answer  to  this  objection  very  well  in  the  opinion 
written  by  Mr.  Justice  Holmes:  "We  have  seen 
more  than  once  that  the  public  welfare  may  call 
upon  the  best  citizens  for  their  lives.  It  would  be 
strange  if  it  could  not  call  upon  those  who  already 
sap  the  strength  of  the  state  for  these  lesser  sacri- 
fices, often  not  felt  to  be  such  by  those  concerned, 
in  order  to  prevent  our  being  swamped  with  in- 



"We  Need  Morons  for  the  Ugly  Jobs''  Some 
really  thoughtful  people  have  objected  to  steriliza- 
tion on  the  ground  that  it  will  cut  off  from  society  a 
large  body  of  persons  whom  we  need  to  do  our  dirty 
work.  They  do  not  always  put  it  so  brutally  as 
that,  but  in  effect  that  is  what  they  mean.  The  best 
answer  that  I  know  is  that  if  we  did  not  have  the 
people  to  do  the  ugly  jobs,  we  would  find  some 
way  to  abolish  the  jobs.  Necessity  is  here  the 
mother  of  non-invention. 

I  can  remember  many  dirty  jobs  that  I  had  to 
do,  years  ago,  when  I  was  a  farmer.  They  were 
the  same  jobs  my  ancestors  had  had  to  do,  none  of 
whom — so  far  as  I  can  ascertain  by  a  careful  fam- 
ily study — were  feeble-minded.  The  toilet  facili- 
ties, in  my  day  as  in  theirs,  were  in  the  backyard, 
and  sometimes  I  had  to  clean  the  cesspool — a  job 
that  I  would  cheerfully  have  deputed  to  somebody 
else.  I  milked  a  string  of  cows  by  hand.  All  our 
farm  work  was  done  with  horses.  In  winter  when 
my  wife  and  I  drove  to  town  the  snow  was  driven 
into  our  faces  from  the  flying  heels  of  the  horse 
hitched  to  our  sleigh.  We  butchered  our  own 
animals,  and  Mrs.  Whitney  often  tried  out  the  gut 
lard.  We  had  no  electricity,  no  city  gas. 

To-day,  what  a  contrast!  We  still  live  in  the 
country,  but  under  very  different  conditions.  Milk, 



extracted  by  mechanical  milkers,  is  delivered  to 
our  door.  We  boast  a  septic  tank,  and  our  plumb- 
ing is  inside  the  house.  We  ride  in  an  automobile 
or  a  trolley  car.  We  buy  meat  that  has  been  butch- 
ered in  mechanized  factories  quite  unlike  the  old- 
fashioned  slaughter-houses.  Running  water  is 
pumped  from  a  deep  well  by  an  automatic  pump. 
Canned  gas  is  delivered.  In  short,  we  have  all  the 
comforts  of  the  city. 

Twenty  years  ago  it  would  have  seemed  very 
fine  to  me  to  have  a  moron  around,  to  do  all  those 
ugly  jobs  for  me.  But  to-day  they  are  done  by 
methods  which  no  longer  require  the  services  of 
that  moron.  They  are  no  longer  "dirty  work"  be- 
cause people  have  bent  their  inventive  intelligence 
to  their  needs,  perfecting  devices  that  to  a  great 
extent  eliminate  the  unpleasant  phases  of  certain 
jobs.  The  more  inventions  we  human  beings 
think  up,  the  less  we  need  the  moron. 

There  is  an  ethical  consideration  here,  too,  which 
appeals  to  me.  When  people  say  that  we  need 
morons  to  do  our  dirty  work,  they  seem  to  forget 
that  they  are  talking  about  human  beings,  that  they 
are  deliberately  degrading  their  fellow-men  to  the 
category  of  the  slave  or  the  mule.  In  the  South 
they  used  to  say  that  slaves  were  needed  for  the 
menial  labor.  But  hasn't  that  day  passed?  Let  us 



hope  so.  Work  of  any  kind  is  becoming  less  and 
less  degrading.  Time  was  when  working  in  the 
woods,  for  instance,  was  not  particularly  inspiring. 
But  to-day  with  modern  methods  of  lumbering  it 
requires  brains  to  do  this  work,  and  under  these 
conditions  many  intelligent  people  have  learned 
that  there  is  no  more  healthful  or  exhilarating  la- 
bor to  be  found.  The  truth  is  that  what  dirty 
work  there  is  left  in  the  world  will  become  clean 
work  just  as  soon  as  intelligent  people  do  it. 

"Sterilization  is  Mutilation/'  Then  we  hear  it 
said  that  the  state  has  no  right  to  "mutilate"  the 
body  of  any  of  its  individuals.  But  it  does  have 
that  right.  It  has  the  right  to  compel  vaccination, 
which  leaves  a  scar  far  more  apparent  and  objec- 
tionable than  the  scar  left  from  either  vasectomy 
or  salpingectomy.  And  if  the  individual  has  a 
contagious  disease,  he  may  be  isolated  by  the  state's 
orders.  If  he  commits  a  crime,  he  may  be  put  to 
death  by  the  state.  If  he  commits  a  nuisance,  he 
may  be  incarcerated.  If  he  goes  about  in  a  filthy 
condition,  he  may  be  forced  to  cleanse  himself. 
If  he  has  a  job  that  involves  serving  food  publicly, 
he  may  be  regularly  examined  by  a  physician  to 
make  sure  that  he  will  not  communicate  disease  to 
innocent  people.  The  fact  is  that  a  degenerate  is 



exactly  as  great  a  menace  to  society  as  any  of  these, 
and  far  worse  than  some  of  them;  and  he  should 
not  be  allowed  to  produce  offspring  who  may  be 
like  himself. 

"Religion  Calls  It  Immoral."  The  objection  is 
raised  by  some  that  religion  dictates  against  sterili- 
zation on  the  ground  that  it  is  immoral.  Now  it 
might  be  possible,  if  we  were  to  hunt  far  enough 
among  the  writings  of  the  Church  Fathers  and  the 
Calvinistic  theologians,  to  find  some  passage  di- 
rected against  it — though  it  is  doubtful  whether 
any  of  them  could  have  had  in  mind  the  processes 
that  to-day  we  mean  by  sterilization.  On  the  other 
hand,  if  we  were  to  search  the  Bible — which,  after 
all,  is  an  acknowledged  authority  among  all  faiths 
worth  considering  in  this  regard — what  we  should 
find  instead  is  hundreds  of  passages  that  urge  the 
upbuilding  of  the  human  stock.  The  Jews  have 
always  held  racial  purity  and  excellence  above 
nearly  everything  else.  Their  taboos  against  mar- 
riage with  inferior  peoples  and  with  Gentiles  were 
equally  strong.  They  are,  indeed,  an  inspiration 
to  other  races  in  this  respect. 

The  Talmud,  even  more  than  the  Bible,  continu- 
ally preaches  race  purity  and  family  upbuilding. 
"Let  a  man  sell  all  he  has  and  marry  the  daughter 



of  a  learned  man  of  the  time.  If  he  cannot  find  the 
daughter  of  a  learned  man  of  the  time,  let  him 
marry  the  daughter  of  the  head  of  a  congregation. 
If  he  cannot  find  the  daughter  of  the  head  of  a  con- 
gregation, let  him  marry  the  daughter  of  an  al- 
moner. But  let  him  not  marry  the  daughter  of 
the  unlearned,  because  their  wives  are  vermin  and 
of  their  daughters  it  is  said  'cursed  is  he  who  lieth 
with  a  beast/  " 

It  seems  to  me  that  the  practice  of  citing  ancient 
and  superseded  authorities  to  prove  our  theories 
ought  to  be  dropped  in  this  era  of  science.  What 
an  enormous  amount  of  tragedy  this  has  caused! 
Take  the  attitude  of  religion  on  the  use  of  anes- 
thesia in  the  middle  of  the  nineteenth  century. 
That  controversy  was  as  bitter  as  is  ours  to-day 
over  contraception  and  sterilization.  The  clergy 
long  held  out  against  anesthesia,  citing  authorities 
who  said  that  it  is  immoral  not  to  let  a  person  suf- 
fer, particularly  a  woman  in  labor.  In  the  third 
chapter  of  Genesis,  for  instance,  they  found:  "In 
sorrow  thou  shalt  bring  forth  children."  Conclu- 
sive :  God  intended  that  women  should  endure  un- 
mitigated agonies  forever  because  Eve  ate  the 
apple.  Then  along  came  some  physician  who 
found,  in  the  second  chapter  of  Genesis,  this  effec- 
tive come-back :  "And  the  Lord  God  caused  a  deep 



sleep  to  fall  upon  the  man" — this  being  in  prepara- 
tion for  the  creation  of  Eve  from  one  of  Adam's 
ribs.  Equally  conclusive:  God  Himself  had  re- 
sorted to  anesthesia ;  it  was  therefore  all  right  for 
man  to  do  it.  All  of  which  sounds  either  highly 
ridiculous  or  distressingly  blasphemous;  yet  it  is 
exactly  what  happened  in  the  days  of  the  dear 
Queen.  And  to-day,  very  few  of  even  the  most 
conservative  religious  folk  wish  to  lift  their  voices 
against  the  use  of  anesthetics.  It  is  no  longer 
"moral"  to  make  people  suffer  unnecessarily. 






Back  in  the  days  when  we  drove  those  old 
Model-T  Fords,  the  magazines  were  full  of  adver- 
tisements of  gadgets  guaranteed  to  save  gas.  I 
remember  buying  a  carburetor  that  was  guaran- 
teed to  add  a  third  to  my  gas  mileage.  I  bought, 
too,  some  hot-shot  spark-plug  arrangements  that 
were  guaranteed  to  get  at  least  six  miles  more  out 
of  every  gallon  of  gas.  I  have  concluded  since 
then  that  neither  of  these  things  ever  made  any 
difference.  There  were  a  myriad  other  contrap- 
tions advertised,  too,  each  of  them  guaranteed  to 
increase  my  gas  mileage.  So  one  day  I  added  a 
lot  of  these  "guarantees"  together,  and  behold,  if  I 
had  bought  the  things  I  could  have  run  on  no  gas 
at  all! 

We  have  heard  recently  that  the  annual  crime 
bill  in  America  is  from  ten  to  sixteen  billions  of 
dollars.  And  here  we  are  worrying  about  a  paltry 
Treasury  deficit  of  nine  billion!  We  are  told  also 
that,  if  every  man  in  the  United  States  were  to 



drink  a  glass  of  beer  a  day,  the  nation  would  be 
inefficient  to  the  extent  of  six  billion  dollars  a 
year.  Noise,  too,  is  said  to  cost  us  several  millions 
a  year  in  loss  of  efficiency.  Common  colds  cost 
more  millions.  Toothaches,  headaches,  athlete's 
foot,  excess  use  of  cosmetics,  rheumatism,  halitosis, 
and  sundry  others  add  still  more  to  our  national 

Now  if  you  were  to  add  all  these  things  together 
you  would  realize  that  in  no  time  at  all  you  have 
accounted  for  about  three  times  the  national  in- 
come of  fifty  billions,  and  that  if  we  could  actually 
make  these  savings  there  would  be  no  need  for  any 
of  us  to  work.  In  fact,  we  could  be  well  paid  for 
going  to  sleep  and  staying  asleep,  just  as  the  old 
Model-T  Fords  could  be  made  to  run  on  less  than 
no  gas  if  you  just  bought  all  the  gas-saving  gadgets. 

I  realize  that  the  burden  of  our  subnormals  is 
perfectly  tremendous.  The  bill  probably  does  run 
into  the  billions  if  we  consider  the  cost  of  the 
crime,  the  pauperism,  the  institutional  care,  and 
the  other  burdens  that  spring  from  that  source. 
But  I  have  no  intention  of  adding  any  more  figures 
to  the  billions  cited  above.  Rather  I  shall  attack 
the  problem  in  what  seems  to  me  to  be  the  logical 

Every  time  a  degenerate  is  born,  somebody  has 



to  support  him  or  her.  It  may  be  a  private  indi- 
vidual who  has  to  be  made  unhappy  by  the  en- 
trance of  the  newcomer  into  the  world.  It  may  be 
a  public  institution.  Moreover,  some  one  must  pay 
when  the  subnormal  does  something  unsportsman- 
like— breaks  the  rules  we  have  set  up  for  the  game 
of  living.  On  the  whole,  the  subnormals  are  very 
poor  sports.  When  a  burglar  broke  into  our  home 
during  my  boyhood  and  stole  all  my  parents'  silver, 
which  had  been  given  them  as  a  wedding  present, 
he  did  more  than  remove  some  valuable  knives, 
forks,  and  spoons :  he  left  a  lot  of  heartache  be- 
hind— more  than  the  silver  was  worth;  and  we 
have  no  way  of  evaluating  such  unhappiness. 
Every  time  the  Community  Chest  of  your  city  pays 
for  a  ton  of  coal,  every  time  the  Charity  Depart- 
ment of  your  State  pays  for  the  food  and  care  of  an 
insane  person,  you,  too,  pay  out  something. 

And  all  the  time  that  the  money  is  going  out, 
our  degenerates  are  demanding  more,  with  no 
prospect  of  return.  Now,  if  you  were  the  owner 
of  a  stock  farm  and  had  a  herd  of  cattle,  you  would 
say  that  you  had  money  invested  in  the  cattle.  They 
represent,  however,  an  investment  that  you  are 
trying  to  make  pay  you  something.  Of  course,  if 
you  are  a  so-called  gentleman  farmer  the  herd 
may  not  be  paying  you  any  income.  Yet  the  money 



would  still  be  an  investment,  because  you  could 
sell  them  any  time — you  could  realize  on  them. 
Every  time  a  calf  is  born,  you  add  that  value  to 
your  inventory,  and  your  inventory  represents  your 
capital  outlay. 

Very  well.  Just  what  difference,  from  an  eco- 
nomic viewpoint,  is  there  between  your  investment 
in  cattle,  which  cost  you  plenty  to  feed,  and  the 
problem  that  society  has  in  its  degenerates?  I  have 
never  heard  any  one  discuss  our  degenerate  classes 
as  an  investment,  but  what  else  is  it?  Every  time 
a  new  subnormal  is  born,  we  may  say  that  we  have 
tied  up  a  certain  sum  of  money  in  that  person. 
Looking  at  it  another  way,  we  shall  have  to  deposit 
in  the  bank  a  sum  of  money  large  enough  to  yield 
sufficient  interest  to  support  that  subnormal  for  a 

If  we  consider  only  the  feeble-minded  who  are 
in  institutions,  it  has  been  calculated  again  and 
again  that  it  costs  at  least  a  dollar  a  day  to  feed  and 
clothe  one  of  them.  It  costs  a  great  deal  besides  this 
to  take  care  of  them,  of  course,  since  board  and 
clothing  are  not  their  only  needs.  But  suppose  that 
we  first  consider  the  food-and-clothes  cost — $365 
a  year  per  capita.  How  much  money  at  5%  would 
we  have  to  deposit  in  order  to  produce  $365? 
$7>3°°-  But,  as  I  have  said,  that  isn't  all.  How 



much  does  it  cost  to  build  and  equip  an  establish- 
ment that  will  house,  say,  1,000  feeble-minded  per- 
sons adequately?  Surely  a  million  dollars,  the 
way  it  is  done  to-day.  Add  another  $1,000  to  each 
person  for  that.  And  there,  you  might  say,  without 
considering  the  cost  of  the  overseers,  the  superin- 
tendent, the  nurses,  the  doctors  and  staff  to  look 
after  the  inmates — there  you  have  $8,300.  So  is 
it  not  fair  to  say  that  every  time  a  feeble-minded 
child  is  born  we  at  once  invest  $8,300  in  it? 

And  now  if  we  add  all  other  costs  to  that  figure 
— cost  to  parents,  payment  for  damage  done,  etc. — 
we  should  reach  a  total  of  at  least  $10,000.  Be- 
sides these  institutional  figures  we  must  take  into 
our  reckoning  the  80,000  feeble-minded  persons  in 
subnormal  schools.  Adding  the  costs  of  these 
brings  our  total  up  to  $800,000,000.  All  this  leaves 
out  of  consideration  those  who  are  outside  of  insti- 
tutions and  schools — the  insane,  the  epileptic,  and 
so  forth.  If  our  crime  bill  actually  is  ten  billion 
dollars,  if  it  has  to  be  paid  every  year,  we  have  an 
investment  in  criminal  degenerates  of  two  hundred 
billions,  the  principal  necessary  to  yield  ten  bil- 

In  New  Haven  in  1933  we  spent  over  $3,000,000 
on  relief.  In  normal  years  our  burden  is  only 
about  $500,000.  But  it  is  only  fair  to  throw  off 



half  of  the  larger  sum  on  account  of  the  unfortu- 
nates whose  plight  is  due  to  economic  maladjust- 
ment rather  than  to  biological  degeneracy. 

In  1915,  when  Dr.  Estabrook  finished  studying 
the  Jukes  tribe,  he  made  a  calculation  of  official 
expenses  which  the  State  of  New  York  had  been 
called  upon  to  meet  on  behalf  of  this  family.  Of 
course,  only  the  expenses  that  had  been  recorded 
as  official  could  be  traced,  and  naturally  not  all  of 
these.  But,  doing  the  best  that  he  could,  Doctor 
Estabrook  recorded  over  $2,000,000.  This  did  not 
take  into  account  any  of  the  property  damage 
caused  by  various  members  of  the  family.  It  did 
not  take  into  account  the  time  spent  by  various 
charity  workers  who  made  hundreds  of  visits  to 
them,  nor  did  it  cover  the  misery  that  the  family 
caused.  Nor,  finally,  did  it  cover  the  misery  they 
themselves  suffered. 

It  might  have  cost  the  State  of  New  York  pos- 
sibly a  thousand  dollars  at  the  maximum  to  have 
sterilized  the  first  of  that  clan.  Now,  if  we  com- 
pute the  money  spent  by  the  State  the  first  year,  it 
was  doubtless  trivial;  so  also  for  the  second,  and 
the  third,  and  up  to  the  end  of  the  second  genera- 
tion. But  it  began  to  grow,  then,  because  the  Jukes 
grew  in  numbers.  When  the  latest  official  check-up 
of  the  tribe  was  made,  there  were  over  600  then 



living,  and  only  seven  of  them  were  confined  in 

Mental  and  other  tests  show  us  that  the  greater 
part  of  the  clan  is  subnormal,  not  sufficiently  so 
to  be  confined,  but  subnormal  enough  to  be  inca- 
pable of  doing  anywhere  near  so  much  productive 
labor  as  normal  citizens,  and  so  incapable  and  trou- 
blesome as  to  be  a  perpetual  care  to  the  State. 

Let  us  see  if  the  figure  of  $10,000  which  we  said 
had  to  be  placed  in  the  bank  for  every  degenerate 
born  holds  in  this  case  where  a  family  is  outside  of 
an  institution.  Probably  not  over  half  of  the  pres- 
ent 600  Jukes  who  are  at  liberty  are  of  the  lower 
grades.  I  have  met  a  number  of  them  who  were 
well  qualified  to  hoe  their  own  row  in  the  world, 
but  capable  none  the  less  of  transmitting  degen- 
eracy. If  300  are  of  the  potential  caliber  we  are 
considering,  then  we  might  say  that  the  State  has 
invested  in  them  300  times  $10,000,  or  $3,000,000. 
Five  percent  interest  on  this  amount  would  be 
$150,000  a  year,  which  is  what  they  should  be  cost- 
ing the  State;  as  a  mattter  of  fact,  the  average  over 
the  past  years,  taken  in  proportion  to  their  num- 
bers, somewhat  exceeds  this  figure.  I  think,  there- 
fore, that  whether  the  subnormal  individual  is  in 
an  institution  or  out  of  it,  we  are  safe  in  assuming 
that  we  have  $10,000  tied  up  in  each.  If  he  is  out- 



side,  the  State  has  court  costs,  police  costs,  and 
chanty  costs ;  if  he  is  inside,  the  State  has  the  cost 
of  food  and  maintenance,  plus  the  investment  in 
buildings  and  equipment.  The  subnormal  are  ex- 
pensive luxuries,  wherever  they  are. 

In  fact,  such  people  are  expensive  more  or  less 
in  proportion  as  their  intelligence  falls  below  the 
level  of  ordinary  usefulness.  They  are  below  this 
level  if  they  suffer  from  a  degree  of  incomplete 
mental  or  emotional  development,  rendering  them 
incapable  of  independent  social  adaptation,  and 
necessitating  external  care,  supervision,  and  con- 

The  sums  spent  by  the  several  States  on  relief 
during  the  depression  do  not,  of  course,  accurately 
reflect  the  cost  of  defectives. 

Let  us  therefore  go  back  to  1915  to  get  statistics 
less  distorted.  In  that  year  the  States  of  the  Union 
spent  a  total  slightly  exceeding  $75,000,000  for  the 
institutionalized  defectives.  This  is  the  interest  on 
a  billion  and  a  half.  They  are  spending  more  to- 

When  we  include  criminal  classes  we  find  a  very 
different  story.  New  York  State  alone  appro- 
priated for  the  fiscal  year  ending  June  30,  1928, 
$32,558,000  for  the  care  of  the  feeble-minded,  in- 
sane, criminalistic,  blind,  deaf,  paupers,  and  other 



institutionalized  and  socially  aided  classes.  This 
was  exclusive  of  private  charity,  which  was  prob- 
ably several  times  that  amount.  This  represents 
an  investment  in  these  classes  of  $651,160,000. 

In  New  York  State  one  person  out  of  every  25 
during  a  generation  becomes  an  inmate  of  an 
asylum  or  a  residence  for  mental  defectives.  One 
family  in  seven  is  represented.  Then,  too,  it  must 
be  remembered  that  there  are  several  times  as 
many  insane  persons  outside  of  institutions,  who 
never  are  admitted  owing  to  the  desire  of  the 
family  to  maintain  them  at  home.  All  this  signi- 
fies that  the  population  of  that  great  State  is  not 
so  sound  mentally  as  it  should  be. 

Dr.  H.  M.  Pollack,  who  for  many  years  was  the 
Statistician  for  the  Mental  Hygiene  Society,  made 
an  interesting  estimate.  Considering  the  300,000 
persons  in  institutions  for  mental  disease,  he  deter- 
mined to  discover  as  nearly  as  possible  what  was 
lost  to  these  individuals  in  the  way  of  earning  ca- 
pacity. After  a  careful  study  he  concluded  that 
the  average  amount  these  people  might  have 
earned  during  the  rest  of  their  lives,  had  they  not 
been  deprived  of  their  liberty,  was  $6,000  each. 
Thus  the  80,000  committed  each  year  meant  an 
economic  loss  (above  what  we  have  already  fig- 
ured) of  $480,000,000.  This,  taken  with  the  an- 


nual  amount  spent  on  the  maintenance  of  the 
300,000  ($150,000,000),  represents  a  staggering 

Look  at  it  in  whatever  way  you  please,  you  come 
to  the  conclusion  that  from  a  financial  point  of 
view  degeneracy  costs  a  great  deal  of  money.  But 
to  me,  even  that  does  not  represent  so  enormous  an 
expenditure  as  does  the  misery  to  the  people  them- 
selves which  degeneracy  entails. 

Here  we  have  considered  only  mental  disease 
and  mental  deficiency.  What  about  the  inherited 
deafness,  epilepsy,  blindness,  chorea,  and  other 
maladies?  Some  are  more  serious  than  those  we 
have  considered,  but  they  are  not  so  prevalent,  and 
we  can  ignore  them. 

Civilization  is  becoming  more  and  more  compli- 
cated. Sounder  brains  are  constantly  being  de- 
manded to  cope  with  modern  conditions.  That 
quality  which  is  best  described  as  adaptability,  one 
of  the  most  important  human  character  require- 
ments, is  seriously  lacking  when  so  many  people  in 
a  State  become  insane.  Yet  it  is  just  that  quality 
which  is  needed  to  render  one  adjustable  and  thus 
secure  in  the  face  of  our  rapidly  changing  civiliza- 
tion. It  is  becoming  too  rare. 

Figures  speak  louder  than  words  to  some  people, 
though  to  some  of  us  they  prove  boring.  Enough 



has  been  said  already  to  show  that  our  degenerates 
now  constitute  an  appalling  investment,  and  there 
is  no  doubt  whatever  that  the  investment  is  grow- 

Frightful  though  this  financial  situation  is,  I  be- 
lieve that  it  is  not  so  grave  as  other  aspects  of  the 
problem.  What  does  it  mean  for  the  more  intelli- 
gent of  us  that,  for  instance,  all  appeals  to  the 
public  have  to  be  written  down  to  a  low  level,  have 
to  be  cast  so  as  to  reach  the  1 3-year-old  mind? 
Agencies  such  as  the  newspapers  and  the  moving 
pictures  have  to  earn  money  to  be  able  to  stay  in 
business.  To  earn  money  they  must  make  their 
films  or  edit  their  papers  in  such  a  way  that  these 
will  sell.  And  to  make  them  sell  they  have  to  cal- 
culate the  average  intelligence  of  their  market. 

The  most  successful  producers  know  that  the 
average  movie  fan  or  newspaper  reader  is  about 
13  years  old.  To  make  sure  that  their  pictures  and 
newspapers  can  be  understood,  they  could  almost 
select  a  group  of  seventh-grade  pupils  and  try  out 
their  productions  on  them.  If  these  proved  to  be 
over  the  heads  of  such  children,  they  would  be 
over  the  heads  of  half  the  population! 

Of  course,  certain  moving  pictures  are  made 
with  the  upper  half  in  mind — pictures  that  appeal 
to  the  reason  and  the  higher  emotions,  pictures 



not  so  cheap  and  tawdry.  Sometimes  these  make 
money.  One  thing,  however,  seems  never  to  occur 
to  the  producers:  if  this  were  the  only  kind  pro- 
duced, then  the  lower  half  would  go  to  see  these 
instead;  whereas  the  upper  half  refuses  to  go  to 
see  most  of  the  junk. 

Then,  too,  there  are  "class"  newspapers — the 
tabloids,  for  instance,  which  obviously  are  written 
for  the  lower  half.  A  tabloid  editor  knows  that 
this  group  can  read  pictures  if  they  can't  read 
print;  so  he  concentrates  on  the  pictures  and  makes 
the  text  so  simple  that  any  child  who  has  just 
learned  to  read  can  understand  it  easily.  More- 
over, the  tabloid  editor  bases  his  appeal  chiefly  on 
sex  and  the  emotions,  which  in  the  scale  of  evolu- 
tion are  of  course  much  older  than  reasoning 

Civilization  has  to  keep  continually  in  mind  the 
lowest  quarter  and  the  lower  half.  These  we  shall 
always  have  with  us.  But  let  us  hope  that  the 
"lowest  quarter"  in  the  future  will  not  be  on  so 
low  a  level  of  intelligence  as  it  is  to-day.  We  have 
much  more  than  a  mere  financial  problem.  We 
have  the  shame  of  this  degradation  of  everything 
decent  in  life,  pulled  downward  to  meet  the  under- 
standing of  the  subnormal.  And  finally  we  carry 
the  burden  of  the  unhappiness  caused  by  the 



childish  conduct  of  the  unintelligent  and  by  the 
depredations  of  the  ill-trained  and  emotionally  un- 
balanced. The  cost  of  crime  is  higher  than  any 
official  figures  reveal.  Heartaches  are  not  meas- 
urable in  dollars. 






There  is,  in  my  opinion,  only  one  kind  of  sterili- 
zation worth  considering,  and  that  is  voluntary 
sterilization.  I  know  the  arguments  for  compul- 
sory laws,  but  I  know  also  the  practical  objections 
to  these.  Theoretically  it  would  be  well  worth 
while  if  we  could  appoint  a  tribunal  which  would 
pass  on  the  sterilization  of  several  million  persons 
and  thus  in  one  gesture  purge  the  race  of  a  large 
amount  of  degeneracy.  Then  we  should  merely 
have  to  repeat  the  process  at  intervals  when  new 
crops  of  degeneracy  appeared.  All  this  sounds 
well,  but  in  our  democracy  it  is  impossible  of  at- 
tainment. Where  sterilization  has  been  made  com- 
pulsory it  has  not  been  so  successful  as  where  it  has 
been  permissive.  Nor  would  it  be,  anywhere  else. 

This  operation  must  be  identified  in  the  public 
mind  as  a  eugenic  one,  a  health  measure  and  a 
means  of  alleviating  suffering.  It  has  already  and 
wisely  been  taken  out  of  the  class  of  punitive  meas- 
ures. Allowing  sterilization  to  become  a  stigma 



of  criminality  would  be  a  serious  handicap  to  its 
acceptance.  Having  one's  tonsils  removed  does 
not  stigmatize  one,  nor  having  one's  appendix  re- 
moved. Even  serious  operations  in  some  families, 
generation  after  generation,  carry  no  public 
stigma.  Yet  any  such  operation  is  surely  an  indi- 
cation that  the  person  is  in  some  way  inferior,  our 
ideal  being  such  rugged  health  that  no  operations 
are  necessary.  But  sterilization  is  both  more  be- 
nevolent and  less  serious  than  many  another  that  we 
undergo  as  a  matter  of  course.  There  are,  too,  so 
many  needing  sterilization  that  no  stigma  need  be- 
come attached.  In  fact,  we  ought  to  respect  any- 
body who  has  been  voluntarily  sterilized  when  he 
learned  of  his  defects,  as  a  person  who  is  consider- 
ate of  his  fellow-men. 

It  is  strange  that  people  seldom  consider  the 
value  to  a  race  of  eliminations  from  it.  In  biology, 
for  instance,  those  who  fail  to  survive  sometimes 
contribute  by  their  very  deaths  as  much  to  the  wel- 
fare of  the  rest  as  those  who  do  survive.  That  is 
because  we  cannot  remove  one  minus  element  with- 
out adding  to  the  plus  side.  And  when  we  subtract 
a  plus  element  we  add  to  the  minus.  But  no  sac- 
rifice is  asked  for  in  this  case;  we  merely  supply 
what  is  desired. 

There  is  in  sterilization  a  parallel  to  finger- 



printing.  I  have  made  a  goodly  number  of  finger- 
prints, both  to  show  people  how  it  is  done  and  to 
use  the  prints  as  marks  of  identification.  Finger- 
printing, every  one  who  has  thought  about  it 
agrees,  should  be  a  universal  mark  of  identifica- 
tion. And  why  isn't  it  to-day  in  America?  Chiefly 
because  a  stigma  has  wrongly  become  attached  to 
it,  and  respectable  folk  shrink  from  being  finger- 
printed. They  have  heard  that  a  prisoner  is  finger- 
printed at  once,  and  the  impressions  are  kept  on 
record.  They  know  that  the  authorities  keep  files 
for  identification  of  the  criminal  element,  along 
with  pictures.  The  Rogues'  Gallery  has  been  so 
well  publicized  that  our  people  have  come  to  think 
of  careful  identification  only  as  a  system  of  catch- 
ing rogues. 

It  is  thus  no  exaggeration,  probably,  to  say  that 
the  majority  of  people  who  are  not  already  en- 
lightened shrink  from  even  the  thought  of  being 
finger-printed.  What  they  are  afraid  of  is  not  the 
putting  of  their  marks  on  record ;  they  dislike  the 
idea  of  submitting  to  what  they  have  always  asso- 
ciated with  criminals.  This  may  not,  of  course, 
represent  a  high  degree  of  common  sense,  but  it  is 
perhaps  only  natural. 

In  just  the  same  way,  if  sterilization  is  made 
compulsory,  is  performed  on  inmates  of  public  in- 


stitutions  without  their  consent,  it  too  will  gradu- 
ally create  in  the  minds  of  most  people  a  feeling 
that  it  is  somehow  a  disgrace.  Already,  and  very 
wrongly,  they  have  come  to  consider  it  disgraceful 
to  have  been  an  inmate  of  any  public  institution; 
hence  the  many  private,  secret  institutions.  This 
is  just  as  ridiculous  as  though  we  were  to  consider 
everybody  disgraced  who  had  been  to  a  hospital. 
There  is  no  essential  difference:  in  one  case  the 
patient  is  sick  in  one  part  of  his  body,  in  the  other 
he  is  sick  in  a  different  part — the  brain,  or  possibly 
the  ductless  glands. 

Let  us  never  allow  sterilization,  this  agent  of 
racial  betterment,  to  become  a  stigma.  It  isn't 
to-day;  let  us  see  that  it  does  not  become  so  to- 
morrow. If,  however,  we  make  it  a  matter  of  com- 
pulsion, there  is  no  doubt  that  it  will  take  on  this 
unwelcome  connotation.  This  would  be  almost  a 
disaster,  since,  as  we  have  seen,  the  people  who 
need  to  be  sterilized  are  not  chiefly  those  in  insti- 
tutions, but  those  at  large  in  the  population.  The 
voluntary  kind,  I  say  again,  is  the  only  kind  worth 
working  for. 

In  this  conviction,  I  am  happy  to  note,  I  am  sus- 
tained by  the  decision  of  the  Department  Com- 
mittee on  Sterilisation  of  the  English  Board  of 
Health.  This  body  of  learned  men  say  in  their 



report,  published  by  the  British  Government  in 
1934:  "We  are  convinced  that  the  harm  done  by 
compulsion  would  far  outweigh  any  possible  ad- 
vantage resulting  from  it."  This  Commission 
comes  to  the  conclusion  that  there  are  adequate 
grounds  for  sanctioning  voluntary  sterilization. 

Though  there  may  be  no  certain  prog- 
nosis in  any  particular  case,  we  know 
enough  to  be  sure  that  inheritance  plays 
an  important  part  in  the  causation  of 
mental  defects  and  disorders.  We  know 
also  that  mentally  defective  and  mentally 
disordered  parents  are,  as  a  class,  unable 
to  discharge  their  social  and  economic 
liabilities  or  create  an  environment  favor- 
able to  the  upbringing  of  children,  and 
there  is  reason  to  believe  that  sterilisa- 
tion would  in  some  cases  be  welcomed  by 
the  patients  themselves.  This  knowledge 
is  in  our  view  sufficient,  and  more  than 
sufficient,  to  justify  allowing  and  even  en- 
couraging mentally  defective  and  men- 
tally disordered  patients  to  adopt  the  only 
certain  method  of  preventing  procrea- 
tion. In  this  view,  as  in  all  our  recom- 
mendations, we  are  unanimous,  and  we 


record  it  with  a  full  sense  of  our  responsi- 
bility. We  believe  that  few  who  ap- 
proached the  question  with  an  open  mind 
and  listened  week  by  week  to  the  evidence 
we  have  heard  could  have  failed  to  be 
struck  by  the  overwhelming  preponder- 
ance of  evidence  in  favor  of  some  measure 
of  sterilisation. 

Another  thought  is  relevant  here.  Of  all  the 
sterilizations  thus  far  done  in  America,  only  a  very 
few  have  been  performed  at  the  instance  of  the 
State.  It  has  been  fully  demonstrated  that  there 
is  very  little  need  for  this,  so  why  all  the  commo- 
tion, considering  that  there  are  so  few  who  could 
object  to  the  permissive  sort  and  so  many  who 
might  object  to  the  compulsory  kind? 

We  are  told  that  in  Germany  sterilization  is 
compulsory.  But  let  Germany  worry  about  that. 
I  believe  that  if  that  country  were  to  make  her 
legislation  permissive,  she  would  in  the  long  run 
achieve  as  great  results  as  she  will  under  the  pres- 
ent system.  German  surgeons,  we  are  assured,  are 
going  to  sterilize  400,000  persons  during  the  next 
few  years.  This  will  help  Germany  materially  to 
reduce  her  charity  burden  in  the  next  generation. 
But  I  feel  that  had  she  adopted  the  voluntary 



method  and  trusted  to  persuasion  and  thorough 
education  by  intelligent  medical  counselors,  she 
would  progress  just  as  far  by  inducing  her  defec- 
tives and  their  kin  to  grant  permission,  for  the 
future  of  the  Vaterland  and  the  well-being  of  their 
families.  If  patriotism  to-day  runs  higher  in  Ger- 
many than  in  many  other  countries,  it  is  because 
it  is  kept  stirred  up  and  alive,  with  biological  pa- 
triotism as  the  incentive.  And  though  biological 
patriotism  is  a  comparatively  recent  phenomenon 
among  human  beings,  selfishness  is  very  old,  and 
selfishness  can  be  relied  on  to  do  some  things  that 
patriotism  cannot;  so  can  altruism.  Selfishness 
plus  sterilization  can  reduce  the  degenerates,  as  it 
has  already  started  to  do.  Altruism  plus  a  little 
self-interest  and  pride  can  increase  our  best  peo- 
ple, as  it  has  already  begun  doing. 






All  the  Protestant  churches  in  the  United  States 
except  the  Lutheran  have  issued  proclamations  or 
made  statements  supporting  the  practice  of  birth- 
control;  so  have  the  Jews.  The  Lutherans  have 
not  condemned  it,  but  they  have  decided  not  to 
voice  an  opinion  as  a  church.  The  first  pronounce- 
ment came  from  the  Unitarians,  and  I  feel  just  a 
little  pride  in  having  had  something  to  do  with 
that.  Once,  in  Boston,  I  spoke  before  a  large 
group  of  the  Unitarian  ministers  of  New  England, 
suggesting  that  they  pass  a  certain  resolution  that 
I  left  with  them.  Shortly  afterward  they  did  so, 
altering  my  wording  somewhat  but  essentially  ex- 
pressing the  same  thought. 

The  Federal  Council  of  Churches  set  forth  their 
feeling  on  the  matter  as  follows : 

The  uncompromising  position  taken 
against  preventing  conception,  under  any 
and  all  circumstances,  except  by  absti- 



nence,  is  manifestly  an  extreme  one,  and 
even  dangerous.  Certainly  there  are  cir- 
cumstances of  health  and  disease,  recog- 
nized everywhere  by  physicians,  which, 
when  abstinence  is  not  to  be  relied  upon, 
make  the  use  of  contraceptives  wise.  The 
arguments  from  nature  and  inferences 
from  authoritarian  doctrinal  positions, 
upon  which  the  encyclical  so  largely  re- 
lies, are  labored  and  inconclusive.  .  .  . 
Catholics  themselves  in  increasing  num- 
bers will  not  submit  themselves  in 
"filial  and  humble  obedience  toward  the 
Church"  in  all  these  matters.  Half  of  the 
patients  in  the  Los  Angeles  birth-control 
clinics  are  Catholics,  and  the  people  of  no 
country  in  the  world  regulate  birth  so 
effectively  as  the  French. 

The  Lutherans  in  general  are  in  favor  of  con- 
traception, individually  if  not  as  a  church.  And 
we  may  say  that  those  people  who  have  no  religious 
affiliation  are  just  as  whole-heartedly  in  favor  of 
the  widespread  practice  of  birth-control  as  are 
those  connected  with  churches. 

When  we  come  to  the  question  of  sterilization,  it 
has  been  my  observation  that  most  people  consider 



it  another  means  of  birth-control,  differing  chiefly 
in  being  final.  I  think  we  are  safe  in  saying  that 
the  same  great  groups  which  have  endorsed  birth- 
control  will  even  more  heartily  endorse  steriliza- 
tion if  they  are  called  upon  to  do  so.  There  is, 
therefore,  potentially,  a  ready-made  alignment  of 
interests  in  favor  of  the  project  in  America. 

On  the  one  hand,  we  have  all  those  who  are  in- 
terested in  racial  improvement,  who  want  to  see 
the  problem  of  degeneracy  decreased  for  the  sake 
of  reducing  the  misery  of  the  degenerates  them- 
selves. They  are  thinking  also  of  the  possible  sav- 
ings, the  removal  of  burdens  from  the  more  worthy 
people,  and  the  heightened  prosperity  of  the  na- 
tion. Many  of  them  think,  too,  that  those  who  will 
have  to  bear  the  burden  of  future  incompetence 
are  diminishing  in  numbers  owing  to  their  failure 
to  fulfill  family-survival  quotas;  thus  they  realize 
that  the  burden  will  be  all  the  harder  when  those 
who  need  help  may  have  doubled. 

On  the  other  hand,  we  are  opposed  by  some  of 
the  clergy,  who  insist  that  birth-control  be  refused 
to  all,  that  sterilization  be  avoided. 

There  was  a  time  when  we  could  sit  back  com- 
placently and  try  to  convince  ourselves  that  actually 
there  was  nothing  to  worry  over.  It  required  a 
depression  to  bring  us  to  a  realization  that  some- 



thing  was  radically  wrong.  Even  before  the  de- 
pression actually  set  in  students  were  warning  us 
of  what  was  impending,  but  we  were  too  busy 
making  money  to  take  them  very  seriously.  Only 
now  have  we  become  fully  aware. 

The  most  happy  people  to-day  seem  to  be  those 
who  have  convinced  themselves  that  the  old  times 
are  no  more,  and  who  have  decided  to  consider 
that  they  must  build  again,  but  build  more  rapidly 
with  the  accumulated  experience  of  their  past  life- 
times to  help  them.  Those  who  sit,  idly  waiting 
for  some  guardian  angel  to  come  and  drop  manna 
into  their  laps  are  those  who  are  most  miserable 
to-day.  The  new  deal  has  been  proclaimed  be- 
cause these  are  new  times. 

Then  why  should  not  the  people  of  this  new  day 
take  stock  and  plan  against  a  repetition  of  the 
evils  of  the  old  days?  We  should.  If  we  did  this, 
one  of  the  first  investigations  we  might  make  could 
profitably  be  to  scrutinize  all  of  the  forces  which 
are  working  for  racial  betterment,  and  those  which 
are  opposed  to  it.  We  might  consider  charity  for 

Most  cities  have  their  community  chests  from 
which  funds  are  distributed  to  those  who  need 
them,  regardless  of  race,  creed  or  color.  The  funds 
are  not,  however,  distributed  to  members  of  sepa- 



rate  religious  faith  in  accordance  with  their  pro- 
portionate part  in  the  population.  All  over  the 
country,  wherever  I  have  studied,  I  have  found 
this  same  situation  to  exist.  It  is  what  you  would 
find  if  you  were  to  make  a  similar  inquiry. 

Hence  I,  in  view  of  years  devoted  to  the  study 
of  this  vital  problem,  offer  this  suggestion,  which  I 
believe  is  the  one  and  only  way  to  bring  about  a 
reasonable  adjustment.  Establish  separate  Com- 
munity Chests.  One  chest  will  be  supported  by 
those  who  are  interested  in  race-betterment,  regard- 
less of  sect.  Out  of  the  income  from  that  chest  will 
go  expenditures  carrying  with  them  some  perma- 
nent alleviation.  Out  of  the  other,  raised  from 
among  those  who  prefer  the  older  and  more  con- 
servative methods,  will  go  the  funds  to  take  care  of 
their  incompetents.  This  will  throw  the  entire 
burden  imposed  by  the  increase  of  population  ex- 
actly where  it  belongs.  Just  as  soon  as  people  de- 
cide that  while  they  are  willing  to  pay  for  a 
reasonable  thing  they  are  unwilling  to  be  mulcted 
because  of  a  policy  with  which  they  have  no  sym- 
pathy— as  soon  as  this  happens,  there  will  come  a 
rebellion.  We  had  exactly  such  a  situation  in  the 
early  days  of  our  Republic  when  Britain  tried  to 
collect  taxes  from  colonies  who  had  no  share  in 
fixing  them.  "Taxation  without  representation  is 



tyranny!"  was  the  cry  that  rang  up  and  down  the 
Atlantic  coast.  To-day  our  donors  of  charity  face 
an  analogous  situation :  they  are  seeing  their  money 
used  to  perpetuate  a  condition  that  they  disap- 

Perhaps  this  argument  may  seem  to  some  a  far 
cry  from  sterilization.  But  it  is  very  intimately  re- 
lated. We  have  such  good  and  reliable  informa- 
tion as  to  the  increase  of  sub-normality,  of  the 
reasons  for  its  increase,  of  the  ways  and  means 
to  reduce  it  both  for  the  benefit  of  society  and  the 
alleviation  of  the  suffering  and  unhappiness  of 
the  sub-normals  themselves,  that  we  can  to-day 
point  our  finger  at  this  influence  and  say  with  as- 
surance, "This  is  helping  to  build  civilization." 
We  can  point  our  finger  at  another  influence  or 
social  agency  and  say,  "This  is  tending  to  lower  the 
general  level  of  social  values."  We  can  prophesy 
in  some  cases  whether  these  levels  are  being  per- 
manently lowered  or  whether  they  are  only  tem- 
porarily lowered. 

We  know  that,  given  a  sound  citizenry,  a  great 
change  in  our  economic  system  can  be  serious,  but 
only  temporary,  but  we  know  too  that  a  great 
change  in  the  quality  of  the  general  heredity  of 
the  people  cannot  be  replaced,  ever,  from  the  same 
people.  Environment  plus  a  splendid  citizenry, 



becomes  more  or  less  what  the  citizens  make  it, 
but  that  same  environment  plus  a  group  of  sub- 
normals becomes  a  very  different  appearing  envi- 
ronment when  they  have  impressed  it  with  the 
natural  propensities.  This  is  seen  over  and  over 
again  in  our  cities  and  in  the  rural  districts.  Some 
of  the  finest  old  residential  sections  of  New  York 
City  and  its  boroughs  are  now  slums,  where  yester- 
day they  were  populated  by  the  type  of  families 
which  furnish  wholesome  character  to  our  na- 
tional constitution.  And  those  very  sections  are 
as  we  see  them  today,  because  of  the  kind  of  people 
who  have  moved  in  when  the  others  moved  out. 

There  is  nothing  about  the  argument  for  sepa- 
rate community  chests  which  is  not  apropos  to 
sterilization.  We  are  talking  about  a  race  build- 
ing measure,  and  we  cannot  accomplish  this  for  the 
whole  population  while  a  minority  objects.  So 
we  simply  ask  that  minority  to  look  after  its  own 
people.  Nothing  could  be  fairer  than  that. 

Some  will  say  that  if  we  do  establish  separate 
chests,  we  shall  have  to  look  after  the  offspring  of 
those  who  oppose  sterilization  anyway.  They  say 
that  we  shall  have  to  support  the  miserable  from 
the  public  pocketbook,  just  as  we  are  now  support- 
ing all  kinds  of  people  through  the  governmental 
enterprises  in  the  United  States  and  through  the 



dole  in  England.  But  people  who  say  this  forget 
that  public  opinion  has  been  somewhat  educated 
by  the  depression,  and  will  be  further  educated  in 
days  to  come.  It  will  be  a  difficult  matter  to 
awaken  much  enthusiasm  in  a  public  which  knows 
remedies  and  resolves  to  put  them  in  practice  even 
though  a  minority  objects. 

But  I  imagine  that  we  need  not  worry  over  the 
situation.  As  a  concrete  example,  persons  who  live 
in  neighboring  apartments  or  houses  are  likely  to 
reach  a  certain  stage  of  intimacy,  and  presently  to 
talk  over  family  problems  with  each  other.  When 
one  group  has  neighbors  who  follow  a  more  sen- 
sible practice  as  regards  the  number  of  children 
they  produce,  can  we  expect  that  group  not  to  find 
out  about  it  and  try  to  emulate  the  others?  Any 
number  of  thoughtful  people  are  now  speculat- 
ing on  the  wisdom  of  the  opposition  to  birth- 
control  and  sterilization,  and  we  may  perhaps  see 
another  "Reformation"  in  our  own  time,  and  with 
it  the  realized  dreams  of  the  many  liberals  whom 
we  all  know  and  greatly  respect. 

Let  me  close  this  chapter  with  a  parable  that 
bears  on  this  theme. 

Two  farmers  lived  on  adjoining  farms.  Both 
were  potato-growers,  and  they  had  always  been 
good  friends.  One  day  they  met  on  the  road. 



"Bill,"  Sam  called  out,  "why  don't  you  'n'  me  do 
a  little  cooperatin'?" 

"Why  not?  What's  on  yer  mind?"  Bill  re- 

"Well,  I  been  a-thinkin'.  Here  you  raise  pota- 
toes and  /  raise  potatoes.  Now  why  don't  we  go 
to  work  and  do  our  farmin'  together,  like  we  hear 
about  other  folks  doin'  in  the  magazines?" 

"Good  idea,  Sam.    How  be  we  a-goin'  to  do  it?" 

"Easy,  my  boy.  We'll  pool  our  seed  from  last 
year,  and  we'll  plow  and  cultivate,  and  then  this 
fall  we'll  dig  our  potatoes  and  sell  'em  together. 
What  do  ye  say?" 

"O.K.  Let's  start  as  soon  as  plowin'  time  comes." 

The  two  met  again  to  talk  over  details.  Pres- 
ently spring  came,  and  they  joined  forces  and  be- 
gan plowing  the  two  farms.  They  found  it  much 
easier  to  treat  the  two  as  one — to  plow  straight 
across  instead  of  each  plowing  his  own  small  field 
and  having  to  turn  his  horses  around  often,  as  be- 
fore ;  and  they  liked  the  new  plan. 

After  plowing  and  harrowing  came  planting. 
One  morning  the  men  brought  the  potato-planters 
out  from  the  sheds.  Bill  drifted  over  to  see  how 
Sam's  seed  looked.  There  it  lay  in  big  piles. 

"Jumpin'  Jehosaphat!"  exclaimed  Bill.     "You 



ain't  a-goin'  to  plant  that  gnarly,  scabby,  wiz- 
ened-up  trash,  be  ye?" 

"Why  not?"  said  his  partner,  looking  up.  "Why 
wouldn't  I?" 

"And  you  knowin'  enough  to  propose  coopera- 
tion in  the  first  place?  Surely  you  know  enough 
not  to  plant  that  kind  of  seed!" 

"Well,  I  been  a-plantin'  of  it  every  year,  just 
like  my  father  V  my  grandfather  did,  and  I'm 
goin'  to  keep  on.  Fact  is,  I  kin  remember  hearin' 
my  granddaddy  say  that  it  was  always  best  to  sell 
the  best  potatoes  and  plant  the  rest.  He  done  it 
and  what  was  good  enough  fer  my  granddaddy  is 
good  enough  fer  me!" 

"But  what  about  me?"  Bill  protested.  "Here  I 
been  selectin'  and  selectin',  tryin'  to  get  my  pota- 
toes bigger  'n'  finer  V  no  scab  on  'em.  Soaked 
'em  every  year  fer  scab,  an'  it's  no  wonder  my 
spuds  have  shelled  out  so  fine  every  fall.  And 
what's  more,  everything  I  kin  learn  from  them 
fellers  over  at  th'  Experiment  Station  about 
growin'  'em  better,  I'm  going  to  learn.  An7  I'm 
a-goin'  to  use  it  too." 

"Aw,  come  on,  Bill,"  coaxed  Sam.  "Go  ahead 
and  let's  plant  yours  and  mine  all  together.  What's 
the  harm?  I  tell  ye,  what  them  old-timers  said  was 
right.  I'm  goin'  by  them." 



Well,  the  preliminary  work  had  all  been  done, 
and  anyway  spring  is  the  time  of  hope,  so  Bill  felt 
that  for  this  one  time  he  had  better  be  a  sport  and 
go  along  with  Sam.  They  proceeded  to  pool  their 
seed,  and  they  went  to  work.  Summer  passed. 
Here  and  there  were  fine  stalwart  potatoes.  But 
by  the  time  the  crop  was  dug,  some  of  the  scab 
from  Sam's  had  infected  Bill's,  and  in  addition  the 
crop  as  a  whole  was  much  less  than  twice  as  large 
as  Bill  by  himself  had  had  during  previous  years. 

The  time  came  to  market  the  potatoes.  Said 
Bill :  "Now  looka  here,  Sam,  let's  select  our  seed 
for  next  year,  first  thing  we  do.  We've  had  a  bad 
enough  lesson  this  season  to  know  that  a  feller 
can't  grow  good  potatoes  unless  he  has  good  seed." 

"Save  the  seed?"  exclaimed  Sam  in  disgust.  "I 
guess  not.  We'll  sell  the  best,  and  use  for  seed  the 
little  poor  ones  that  we  can't  sell." 

Then  (because  this  is  a  modern  parable)  Bill 
replied:  "Oh,  yeah?  Well,  you  go  ahead  and  run 
your  farm,  and  keep  plantin'  your  scabby,  runty 
seed.  I'm  a-goin'  to  keep  the  best  fer  seed.  I'll  run 
my  farm — you  run  yours — and  some  day  maybe 
you'll  find  out  what  plantin'  that  poor  seed  is  costin' 






To-day's  discussion  of  our  need  for  "a  planned 
Society"  usually  emphasizes  aspects  of  our  eco- 
nomic structure.  As  yet,  current  talk  has  not 
touched  on  a  far  more  important  need  of  contem- 
porary life,  the  foundation  on  which  any  new  eco- 
nomic structure  must  be  built,  if  it  is  to  stay  firm. 
I  mean  a  eugenic  program. 

There  is  no  denying  the  fact  that  if  we  take  ac- 
count of  the  quality  of  a  population  as  well  as  of 
its  numbers,  we  strike  at  the  root  of  the  problem, 
for  these  two  go  hand  in  hand.  Back  of  this  ques- 
tion, again,  stands  that  of  ambition,  of  goal. 
Where  are  we  heading?  If  we  want  to  get  some- 
where, we  first  ask  ourselves  where  we  are  going 
and  then  take  the  most  direct  route.  Where  do 
we  want  to  go?  We  have  over  us  no  dictator  mo- 
tivated by  self-glorification;  we  are  not  being 
coerced  into  breeding  a  great  army  which  he  may 
use  to  acquire  new  territory.  We  do  not  need 
millions  of  men  for  national  defense,  since  there  is 



little  likelihood  of  our  being  attacked  by  another 
nation.  Perhaps  we  should  do  well  to  adopt  as  our 
ideal  the  desire  to  become  a  model  nation,  to  live 
contentedly  within  our  own  boundaries,  to  forgo 
any  plans  of  aggression,  to  produce  as  much  as  pos- 
sible for  the  support  of  our  own  people,  to  be  self- 
sufficing  and  yet  have  enough  surplus  to  help  other 
peoples  when  they  need  it. 

A  large  proportion  of  our  population  is  of  in- 
nately fine  stock.  We  still  have  seed-stock  from 
which  we  might  erect  a  nation  such  as  the  world 
has  never  seen,  a  nation  such  as  has  only  been 
dreamed  of.  What  else  is  there  for  us  to  do  than 
just  that — become  an  object  lesson?  But  what 
kind  of  object  lesson  shall  we  become? 

We  need  financial  security.  We  are  going  to 
achieve  it,  with  effort.  It  has  been  argued,  I  think 
convincingly,  that  we  can  get  along  very  well  in- 
deed with  a  smaller  population.  But  it  must  be 
made  more  and  more  a  quality  population.  Per- 
haps we  shall  get  that  too.  But  if  ever  we  are  go- 
ing to,  our  first  and  greatest  necessity  is  the  wide 
and  immediate  dissemination  of  birth-control  in- 
formation. Every  one  must  do  what  he  can  in  the 
direction  of  that  legislative  reform.  We  must 
make  available  to  every  couple  at  the  time  of  mar- 
riage such  information  as  will  enable  them  to  have 



as  many  or  as  few  children  as  they  want,  and  to 
space  the  children  properly.  Progressive  up- 
ward evolution  will  inevitably  set  in.  As  I  have 
said  earlier,  what  if  the  minus  social  elements  do 
have  two  children  to  satisfy  their  parental  instinct? 
At  that  they  will  diminish  at  the  rate  of  50%  each 

Give  them  the  necessary  information  and  in- 
struction and  let  them  decide  for  themselves 
whether  to  have  few  children  or  many.  If  we  sup- 
pose their  incomes  to  be  reasonably  stable,  and  if 
each  year  they  must  make  their  choice  between  a 
commodity  and  a  baby,  which  do  you  think  they 
will  choose?  Here  is  a  nice  shiny  automobile;  and 
here  is  a  baby.  Which  will  they  take?  Here  is  a 
television  apparatus,  the  newest  and  best  on  the 
market.  Will  you  choose  that,  Mr.  Moron,  or 
would  you  like  another  baby?  There,  Mrs.  Moron, 
are  the  moving  pictures,  the  public  golf-course, 
there  are  nine  months  of  freedom  w.  nine  months 
of  staying  home — which  will  you  choose?  Mr. 
Moron,  here  you  see  a  squalling  baby  who  will  get 
you  up  nights,  and  here  you  see  nice  long  evenings 
in  the  poolroom — which  will  you  choose?  A 
Sears-Roebuck  catalogue  offers  a  thousand  choices 
between  a  baby  and  something  else  that  looks 
pretty  tempting.  Which  will  the  morons  choose? 



If  you  think  they  will  choose  more  than  one  or  two 
babies,  then  you  don't  know  morons. 

The  first  step  in  building  a  civilization,  there- 
fore, is  to  place  everybody  on  the  same  footing  as 
that  on  which  our  intelligent  classes  find  them- 
selves to-day.  This  done,  sterilization  will  come  to 
the  assistance  of  those  who  are  too  stupid  to  com- 
prehend or  to  carry  out  the  simple  methods  of  con- 
traception; to  help  those  who  are  intelligent  but 
resolved,  because  they  know  they  bear  dysgenic 
germ-plasm,  that  they  will  have  no  children  at 
all;  and  finally  the  relatives  and  guardians  of  de- 
generates who  want  to  protect  themselves,  their 
family,  and  the  race  against  the  trouble  to  which 
the  pregnancy  of  a  degenerate  in  their  family 
might  give  rise.  In  the  program  for  a  controlled 
and  planned  society,  sterilization^  will  take  the 
place  of  contraception  for  a  host  of  persons.  It 
will  make  contraception  unnecessary  in  many  cases 
and  will  liberate  the  mind  of  the  person  desiring 
an  effective  and  permanent  means  of  birth-control. 

A  planned  society  must  imply  the  regulation  of 
births.  But  its  birth-control  program  must  be 
threefold :  birth-liberation  for  those  best  endowed 
by  Nature;  birth-maintenance  for  the  great  aver- 
age; birth-reduction  for  the  lowest  social  elements. 
Just  one  thing  is  essential:  to  make  contraception 



and  sterilization  available.  Superiority  will  of  it- 
self be  the  deciding  factor.  Superior  people  will 
show  their  superiority  in  the  test  which  is  to  come. 
That  test  is  the  survival  of  the  fittest,  but  the 
question  of  who  the  fittest  are  will  come  to  have  a 
new  meaning.  No  longer  will  we  make  the  mis- 
take of  translating  fitness  as  brute  strength;  we 
shall  understand  it  to  comprehend  all  that  we  hold 
dearest  in  life — beauty,  love,  idealism,  good  citi- 
zenship, honor,  health,  and  the  happiness  that 
springs  from  being  able  to  create  our  families  by 
choice  rather  than  by  chance. 

If  I  did  not  know  that  already  within  our  ranks 
we  are  witnessing  a  demonstration  that  this  con- 
dition can  actually  come  about,  I  should  not  feel 
so  hopeful.  But  all  our  population  figures  show 
that  whereas  the  birth-rate  dropped  first  in  the 
upper  classes  (considering  class  on  the  basis  of  in- 
telligence) the  ability  to  control  this  has  slowly 
crept  downward  until  to-day  it  is  almost  possible 
for  the  border-line  group  to  control  their  births. 
To-morrow  it  will  be  possible  for  them.  And  that 
to-morrow  can  be  brought  closer  by  the  efforts  of 
all  intelligent  people.  "Ye  shall  know  the  truth 
and  the  truth  shall  make  you  free." 






Once  upon  a  time  there  was  a  kind  gentleman 
who  bought  a  bear-cub. 

Now  a  bear-cub  is  about  the  most  lovable  little 
creature  ever  invented  by  Nature.  Anybody 
would  fall  for  one.  Indeed,  "Teddy  Bears"  owed 
their  popularity  to  this  very  susceptibility  in  chil- 
dren and  grown-ups  alike.  So  we  must  not  blame 
the  kind  gentleman  for  yielding  to  his  impulse. 
Edward  was  the  cutest  of  bear-cubs — so  helpless, 
so  utterly  dependent  on  its  master  for  its  every 
need,  so  gentle  and  appealing.  Never  did  Edward 
scratch  the  kind  gentleman,  but  lapped  his  hand 
and  followed  him  everywhere  he  went. 

Edward  lived  on  the  fat  of  the  land.  Edward 
grew.  But  for  many  months  its  owner,  because 
he  was  so  close  to  his  pet,  did  not  notice  the  growth ; 
though  now  and  again  he  did  wonder  why  Edward 
was  eating  so  much  more  food  every  week.  Then 
one  day  he  awoke  to  the  realization  that  his  darling 
little  cub  was  losing  some  of  its  cuteness.  That 
night  he  didn't  sleep  very  well,  and  he  got  up  on 
the  wrong  side  of  the  bed.  At  breakfast  he  said 


to  his  wife  that  maybe  he  had  undertaken  some- 
thing that  wasn't  so  laudable.  However,  he  went 
off  to  business,  and  came  home  feeling  better  and 
having  forgotten  all  about  Edward  in  the  mean- 

Day  after  day  he  continued  Edward's  feedings 
— a  little  more  every  week.  He  brought  his  friends 
over  to  see  his  pet,  to  admire  Edward's  proud 
beauty.  But  pretty  soon  he  found  he  had  to  stop 
referring  to  "our  cub" — Edward  could  certainly 
not  be  called  anything  but  a  full-grown  bear  by 
this  time.  Also  it  occurred  to  him  after  a  while 
that  his  pet  didn't  seem  very  grateful  for  every- 
thing he  was  doing  for  it — acted,  indeed,  anything 
but  appreciative.  Sometimes,  when  he  set  the  dish 
of  food  down,  Edward  would  actually  growl  at  his 
kind  master. 

And  then  one  day  he  took  his  bear  out  for  a 
stroll,  leading  it  on  a  chain  as  usual.  But  as  the 
two  were  passing  along  the  village  street  the  bear 
suddenly  began  to  growl  fiercely;  then  struck  at 
the  kind  gentleman  with  a  tremendously  powerful 
paw.  This  seemed  almost  to  hint  ingratitude,  and 
the  gentleman  was  much  shocked.  He  dared  not 
drop  the  chain  lest  Edward  should  run  loose 
through  the  neighborhood  and  scare  the  people 
to  death.  So  he  promptly  did  what  he  had  been 



told  was  the  only  thing  to  do — he  caught  hold  of 
Edward's  tail.  The  bear  raced  ahead,  dragging 
its  master  by  its  tail;  then  stopped  and  tried  to 
reach  back.  But  its  master  only  pulled  a  little 
harder,  sidewise.  All  that  the  bear  could  do  was 
to  look  around  threateningly.  All  that  its  master 
could  do  was  to  hang  on.  He  hung,  and  he  hung, 
and  finally,  when  he  was  completely  exhausted,  he 
yelled  for  help.  So  a  neighbor  came  out  with  a  gun 
and  shot  Edward.  And  that's  the  end  of  the  story. 

Some  generations  ago,  we — the  kindly  people  of 
America — adopted  a  cute  little  harmless  bear-cub, 
in  the  form  of  our  mentally  handicapped  citizens. 
We  fed  them,  clothed  them,  housed  them,  allowed 
them  to  increase  in  size  by  continual  augmentation 
from  immigrants  of  their  own  caliber.  At  first 
we  enjoyed  helping  these  unfortunates.  Those  of 
us  who  could  afford  it  took  no  end  of  pleasure  in 
the  consciousness  that  our  charges  were  being  gen- 
erously provided  with  creature  comforts. 

But  this  bear  grew,  too,  and  once  in  a  while  we 
found  ourselves  a  little  worried  as  to  whether  we 
had  done  just  the  right  thing.  But  we  got  over 
that  feeling,  chiefly  because  we  had  argued  our- 
selves into  believing  that  what  we  were  doing  was 
the  only  thing  we  could  do. 



And  then  the  time  came  when  our  bear — our 
subnormals  and  degenerates,  our  imbeciles  and 
morons — actually  attacked  us.  There  was  just  one 
chance  of  salvation :  we  reached  for  the  bear's  tail. 
And  we  have  been  hanging  on  to  that  tail  ever 
since.  We  daren't  let  go,  because  we  know  that  if 
we  do,  our  bear  will  turn  on  us  and  tear  us  to  bits. 

Indeed,  this  is  exactly  the  problem  that  now  con- 
fronts the  better  classes  not  only  in  our  own  coun- 
try but  in  many  another  as  well.  They  have  a  bear 
by  the  tail,  the  bear  that  they  have  fondly  tended. 
They  forgot  that  a  bear  grows  up  to  be  a  treacher- 
ous beast.  They  saw  it  first  when  it  was  appealing 
and  harmless,  except  for  its  potentialities.  And 
how  are  they  now  holding  onto  its  tail?  By  charity, 
which  they  no  longer  give  cheerfully  but  have 
come  to  look  on  chiefly  as  a  means  of  self-protec- 

Now  charity,  in  its  Pauline  sense — love  and 
compassion — is  essential  to  human  nobility,  and  the 
expression  of  it  in  kindly  action  brings  strength 
and  happiness,  "blessing  him  that  gives  and  him 
that  takes."  But  organized  charity  should  be  di- 
rected toward  making  itself  gradually  less  and  less 
needed.  It  should  end  with  one  generation,  if  pos- 
sible with  one  almsgiving.  This  is,  of  course,  an 
unattainable  ideal.  The  ideal  benefaction  is  a 



charity  to  lessen  charity — I  mean  ideal  in  the  sense 
of  ultimate  kindness,  kindness  to  the  recipient. 
The  true  Good  Samaritan  not  only  binds  up  the 
wounds  of  the  stranger  assaulted  on  the  road;  he 
uses  his  intelligence  to  see  to  it  that  there  won't  be 
any  more  attacks  made  along  that  road. 

Have  you  ever  thought  what  might  happen  if  we 
were  to  stop  dispensing  all  this  soothing-syrup? 
The  Community  Chest  is  one  of  the  things  that 
have  carried  America  through  the  depression.  We 
have  nurtured  our  minus  elements,  who  are  too 
stupid  or  too  vicious  to  understand  anything  but 
force,  to  whom  the  sole  criterion  of  right  is 
whether  you  can  get  away  with  it.  We  have  cod- 
dled them  until  they  have  become  so  powerful  that 
if  we  let  go  of  the  tail  we  might  as  well  write  finis 
to  ourselves  and  our  civilization.  They  are  strong 
enough  to  overwhelm  the  rich  and  intelligent  and 
public-spirited.  More  of  them  to-day  are  demand- 
ing perpetual  care  than  we  are  able  to  control. 
Give,  give,  give.  You  must  give — you  who  have 
the  wealth.  We  must,  too — we  who  wear  white 
collars  and  who  have  suffered  during  the  depres- 
sion far  more  than  have  many  of  the  pets  whom 
misguided  charity  has  reared  so  tenderly. 

We  have  reached  a  crisis.  These  border-liners 
are  having  so  many  unwanted  children  that  they 


are — not  from  choice — almost  doubling  their  num- 
bers every  generation.  The  donors  of  charity  are 
becoming  gradually  fewer,  though  when  they  get 
free  of  some  of  the  burden  that  our  degenerates  im- 
pose on  them  they  will  begin  to  increase. 

We  know  that  to-day's  need  for  public  relief  has 
been  a  terrific  strain  on  ourselves  as  donors  to  pri- 
vate charity  and  on  our  national  resources  as 
well.  We  know  how  necessary  some  of  our  multi- 
initialed  Federal  enterprises  are,  how  helpful  they 
have  been  in  relieving  the  strain  on  private  charity. 
But  we  know,  too,  that  these  are  but  another  form 
of  soothing-syrup,  for  which  our  children  will 
have  to  pay.  Now  isn't  it  obvious — so  obvious  that 
even  the  morons  themselves  could  see  it — that  if 
the  subnormal  group,  our  overgrown  pet  whose 
keeper  dares  not  let  go  of  its  tail,  continues  to  grow, 
it  will  not  only  shake  its  keeper  off  but  actually 
turn  and  devour  him  and  all  his  property?  The 
only  mystery  is  why  the  keeper  himself  hasn't  long 
ago  seen  this.  Is  it  because  he  has  been  only  half- 
conscious  of  the  growing  strength  and  menace  of 
the  bear,  and  has  refused  to  admit  that  the  day  must 
come  when  he  can  no  longer  control  it? 

I  have  endeavored  to  treat  the  subject  of  sterili- 
zation dispassionately,  at  the  same  time  presenting 



the  facts  as  I  know  them  and  as  they  relate  to  the 
ways  in  which  sterilization  may  be  used  as  a  race- 
builder,  an  eliminator  of  human  misery,  and  an 
agency  for  increasing  the  sum  total  of  human  hap- 

To  recapitulate  briefly:  we  have  seen  that  the 
operation  itself  is  a  simple  one — very  simple  as 
operations  go ;  and  that  it  does  not  interfere  either 
with  sexual  satisfaction  or  with  the  sexual  func- 
tions except  that  it  insures  sterility.  We  have 
noted  the  great  increase  in  degeneracy  in  America, 
its  source,  and  its  cost.  We  have  observed  some  of 
the  known  inherited  human  characteristics  and  the 
mode  of  their  inheritance.  We  have  seen  that 
there  are  few  valid  objections  and  many  compel- 
ling reasons  for  making  sterilization  available  to 
those  who  want  it,  provided  they  are  given  com- 
plete protection  and  are  made  to  take  time  to  con- 
sider the  possible  consequences  of  their  decision. 
Then  we  have  observed  the  recognized  fact  that 
many  a  degenerate  does  not  really  want  a  lot  of 
children,  that  he  has  them  as  the  price  he  must  pay 
for  pleasure,  and  that  if  we  will  but  help  him  to  do 
as  he  really  prefers  to  do,  if  we  will  put  him  on  a 
par  with  ourselves  in  the  matters  of  contraception 
and  sterilization,  he  himself  will  do  the  very  thing 
that  is  best  for  the  future  of  America — namely, 



have  fewer  children.  We  have  seen,  too,  that  a 
planned  society  is  practically  unthinkable  without 
sterilization,  and  that  to  a  certain  extent  the  future 
of  our  race  depends  on  the  widest  possible  applica- 
tion of  the  procedure.  But  we  also  know  that  the 
movement  has  powerful  enemies,  who  for  reasons 
of  their  own  will  probably  continue  for  many  years 
to  oppose  all  efforts  toward  race-building.  We 
therefore  propose  not  only  to  bring  them  to  their 
senses  but  also — in  the  name  of  ordinary  justice — 
to  let  them  pay  for  their  folly;  nay,  to  insist  that 
they  pay  for  it. 

Twenty  years  ago  the  proponents  of  sterilization 
found  themselves  but  voices  crying  in  the  wilder- 
ness, supported  only  by  a  little  band  of  far-sighted 
citizens  whose  common  sense  told  them  that  like 
tends  to  beget  like.  Until  to-day  one  has  felt  in- 
adequate, almost  solitary,  when  he  tried  to  urge 
his  convictions  upon  the  apathetic  millions  of  his 
fellow-citizens.  If  Herr  Hitler  deserves  any  ap- 
probation at  all  it  must  be  for  his  services  in 
making  John  Citizen  think  about  sterilization. 
Eugenics  is  being  taught  now  in  three-quarters  of 
our  five  hundred  colleges  and  universities,  and  in 
many  high  and  preparatory  schools.  Its  teachings 
are  furnishing  texts  for  thousands  of  sermons. 


Though  I  know  of  no  other  like  movement  that 
has  had  such  encouraging  growth,  there  is  still 
room  for  a  lot  of  expansion.  Not  until  its  mes- 
sage has  reached  every  man,  woman,  and  child  and 
made  all  of  them  feel  that  theirs  is  the  opportunity 
to  take  part  in  the  building  of  a  greater  civilization 
— not  until  then  will  eugenics  be  living  up  to  its 
potentialities.  And  what  can  /  do,  what  can  you 
do,  in  this  cause?  Helpless  and  insignificant  we 
may  be,  as  individuals ;  but  by  adding  each  his  en- 
thusiastic willingness  to  spread  eugenic  ideas  and 
to  help  educate  the  opposing  forces,  we  can  do  a 
great  deal. 

Let  me  quote  from  Charles  Edward  Russell's 
article  in  the  October,  1933,  issue  of  Scribner's 

Every  attack  upon  every  intrenched 
evil  helps  toward  the  onward  motion. 
And  it  makes  not  the  slightest  difference 
in  men's  eyes  if  the  attack  is  fruitless. 
There  is  no  such  thing  in  the  world  as  a 
wasted  protest  against  any  existing  evil. 
If  the  protest  is  made  to  no  more  than  a 
handful  of  people  and  is  stifled  then,  it 
will,  if  it  is  true,  just  and  honest,  bear 



sometime  its  due  measure  of  fruit.  .  .  . 
Nothing  pays  so  well  as  enlistment  in 
some  betterment  movement.  It  pays — 
not  in  simoleons  nor  in  kudos,  but  in  one's 
right  to  be  on  good  terms  with  one's  self, 
which  is  about  all  there  is  in  life  anyway 
which  amounts  to  a  hoot.  .  .  .  The  one 
purpose  that  seems  to  have  either  sanity 
or  actual  reward  is  to  keep  some  step, 
however  stumbling,  however  far  in  the 
rear,  with  the  vast,  silent,  often  mysteri- 
ous, sometimes  hardly  discernible  proc- 
esses that  are  slowly  transforming  the 
world  from  a  wolves'  den  to  a  place 
where  a  man  can  know  some  peace,  some 
content,  some  joy  of  living,  some  sense  of 
the  inexhaustible  beauties  of  the  universe 
in  which  he  has  been  placed. 

If  you  can  think  of  any  subject  or  cause  that  you 
could  interest  yourself  in  that  will  yield  to  you  and 
to  society  the  same  returns  that  the  sterilization 
cause  will  yield,  I  should  like  to  know  what  it  is. 
Every  man,  every  woman,  needs  some  constructive 
hobby.  Here  is  a  cause  to  which  you  can  usefully 
give  as  much  or  as  little  time  as  you  have  to  spare. 
You  will  find  yourself  shoulder  to  shoulder  with 



men  and  women  who  have  the  best  interests  of  our 
country  at  heart.  None  of  them  is  trying  to  make 
any  profit,  none  has  any  ax  to  grind.  Everybody 
has  just  one  objective  and  is  doing  his  or  her  part 
to  achieve  it. 

We  ourselves,  admittedly,  will  hardly  live  to  see 
much  more  than  the  beginnings  of  what  we  are 
striving  toward.  But  the  world  is  old,  after  all ; 
the  human  germ-plasm  has  been  evolving  through 
countless  eons,  and  there  will  be  human  creatures 
on  earth  for  many  millions  of  years  to  come.  This 
being  so,  it  is  little  enough  for  us  now  to  "learn  [or 
plan]  as  though  we  were  to  live  forever,  to  live  as 
though  we  were  to  die  to-morrow."  As  biology 
tells  us,  though  we  ourselves  shall  not  live  on,  the 
germ-plasm  that  created  us  will  go  on  creating 
our  children  and  our  children's  children.  The 
Immortal  Germ-plasm!  When  we  consider  that 
in  this  way  we  do  have  immortality  of  a  sort,  ought 
it  not  to  make  us  think?  Should  we  not  accept 
more  seriously  than  we  do  the  responsibility  that 
is  ours?  What  we  do  to-day  in  the  direction  of 
improving  the  germ-plasm  determines  what  kind 
of  germ-plasm  there  will  be  to-morrow.  What  are 
we  going  to  do  about  it?  Drift?  There  are  those 
who  see  us  headed  for  dire  calamity.  uAs  I  watch 
America  drifting  gaily  with  invincible  optimism 



down  the  road  to  destruction,  I  seem  to  be  con- 
templating the  greatest  tragedy  in  the  history  of 
mankind,"  wrote  Dr.  William  McDougall,  emi- 
nent psychologist — but  he  wrote  it  before  we  had 
learned  the  eloquent  fact  that  the  people  at  the 
very  top  are  having  enough  children  to  keep  their 
families  perpetuated,  before  we  began  to  note  the 
swing  toward  adequate  families  in  our  best- 
endowed  classes. 

America  is  certainly  not  bound  "down  the  road 
to  destruction,"  notwithstanding  some  current  situ- 
ations that  must  cause  us  grave  concern.  Too  many 
good  minds  are  left,  too  many  persons  are  eager 
and  ready  to  help  steer  the  Ship  of  State  away  from 
the  rocks  that  loom  in  the  distance.  There  is  fuel 
aplenty  for  that  ship,  but  we  have  come  to  see  that 
navigation  is  as  essential  as  fuel.  We  may  heartily 
rejoice  at  the  promising  signs  that  point  unmis- 
takably to  the  fact  that  a  biological  revolution  is 
going  on  among  us,  that  a  new  public  sentiment  is 
discoverable  which  may  turn  the  tide,  that  there 
is  developing  among  us  a  better  type  of  human 
being — idealistic,  practical,  religious,  intelligent, 
with  sound  temperament  and  noble  emotions.  Let 
us  then  devote  our  utmost  effort  to  encouraging  this 
type,  and  to  discouraging  the  continuation  of  those 
at  the  lower  end  of  the  social  scale. 











The  following  technical  papers  represent  the 
work  of  Mr.  E.  S.  Gosney  and  Dr.  Paul  Popenoe. 
They  deal  with  the  workings  of  the  California 
eugenical  sterilization  law  and  are  fundamental 
source-material  for  any  one  interested  in  sterili- 

1.  THE  INSANE.     Journal  of  Social  Hygiene,  XIII    (5) : 
257-268,  May,  1927. 

2.  THE  FEEBLE-MINDED.    Journal  of  Social  Hygiene,  XIII 
(6);  321-330,  June,  1927. 

ican Assn.  for  the  Study  of  the  Feeble-minded,  5ist  annual 
session,  1927,  pp.  86-103. 

4.  CHANGES  IN  ADMINISTRATION.     Journal  of  Social  Hy- 
giene, XIII  (8) :   466-477,  November,  1927. 

Journal  of  Social  Hygiene,   XIV    (1)123-32,    January, 

6.  MARRIAGE  RATES  OF  THE  PSYCHOTIC.    Journal  of  Nerv- 
ous and  Mental  Diseases,  LXVIII  (i)  :  17-27,  July,  1928. 

7.  FECUNDITY  OF  THE  INSANE.    Journal  of  Heredity,  XIX 
(2)  :  73-82,  February,  1928. 

FEEBLE-MINDED.     The  Pedagogical  Seminary  and  Journal 
of  Genetic  Psychology,  XXXV:   303-311,  1928. 

9.  VOLUNTARY  STERILIZATION.    Proceedings  of  the  3d  Race 
Betterment  Congress,  Battle  Creek,  Michigan,  1928. 



OPERATION.    Journal  of  Social  Hygiene,  XIV  (5)  1271- 
280,  May,  1928. 

Journal    of   Social   Hygiene,   XIV    (5)1280-285,    May, 

FEEBLE-MINDED.     Journal  of  Applied  Psychology,  XII 
(3):  304-3 1 6,  June,  1928. 

$2d  annual  meeting  of  the  American  Assn.  for  the  Study 
of  the  Feeble-minded,  1928. 

Journal  of  Heredity,  XIX  (9)  :  405-411,  September,  1928. 

15.  THE  LAW  AND  HUMAN  STERILIZATION.    Proceedings  of 
the  5 1st  annual  meeting  of  the  American  Bar  Assn.,  1928 
(by  Otis  H.  Castle). 

1 6.  STERILIZATION  AND  CRIMINALITY.     Proceedings  of  the 
$ist  annual   meeting   of  the  American   Bar  Association, 

genics, 1(2):  9-23,  November,  1928. 

of  Abnormal  and  Social  Psychology,  1929. 





Dominance  of  One  Character  and  Recessiveness  of  the  Cor- 
responding, in  the  First  Generation  of  Offspring;  and  Segrega- 
tion in  the  Second  and  Subsequent  Generations. 

Body  size  and  shape. 

Certain    fetal    deformities    (achondroplasia).      Dominant 

over  normal. 
Normal  size.    Dominant  over  true  dwarfs. 


All  the  following  traits  dominate  normal  condition. 
Short  digits  and  limbs  (brachydactyly). 
Absence  of  distal  phalanges. 
Extra  digits  (polydactyly). 
Fused,  webbed,  or  fewer  digits  (syndactyly). 
Fused  joints  of  digits  (symphalangy). 
Abnormal  outgrowths  of  long  bones  (exostoses). 
Fragility  of  bones   (osteopsathyrosis). 
Double-join  tedness. 


Pale  thin  skin.    Dominant  over  colored  thin  skin. 

Brunet  complexion.  Dominant  over  intermediate  and 

Spotted  white  (vitiligo).  Dominant  over  uniformly  col- 



Excessive  formation  of  blisters  (epidermolysis).  Domi- 
nant over  normal. 

Hairiness,  congenital  (hypertrichosis).  Dominant  over 

Skin  thickening,  nail  marking.    Dominant  over  normal. 


White  forelock.    Dominant  over  normal  solid  color. 
Dark  brown.     Dominant  over  light  brown  to  tow  and 

light  reds. 

Black.     Dominant  over  all  other  colors. 
Patchy  graying  of  hair  (canities).    Dominant  over  normal, 

solid  color. 
Curly,  flat  cross-section.     Dominant  over  straight,  round 

Beaded,  non-uniform  cross-section.    Dominant  over  normal 

Digital  hair.    Dominant  over  absence. 


Brown  or  black.  Dominant  over  blue. 

Hereditary  cataract — this  and  following  all  dominant  over 


Internal  pressure  and  swelling  of  eyeball  (glaucoma). 
Displaced  lens  (ectopia  lentis). 

Retina  pigmentary  degeneration  (retinitis  pigmentosa). 
Absence  of  crystalline  lens,  congenital  (aphakia). 
Drooping  of  eyelid  from  paralysis,  congenital  (ptosis). 


Normal  condition.    Dominant  over  deaf-mutism. 
Normal  condition.    Dominant  over  hardening  of  ear  tissue 

Nervous  system. 

Chronic  muscular  twitchings  ( Huntington's  chorea). 
Dominant  over  normal. 



Muscular  atrophy,  progressive  neural,  both  dominant  over 

Spontaneous  (idiopathic)  epilepsy.    Recessive  to  normal. 

Constitutional  feeble-mindedness.    Recessive  to  normal. 

St.  Vitus'  dance  (Sydenham's  chorea).  Recessive  to  nor- 

Lack  of  muscular  tone  (Thomson's  disease).  Recessive  to 


Excessive  urination  (diabetes  insipidus).     Dominant  over 

Excessive  sugar  in  urine  (diabetes  mellitus).     Dominant 

over  normal. 
Urine  dark  after  oxidation  (alkaptonuria).     Recessive  to 




Defective  hair  and  teeth 
Extra  teeth 

Double  set  of  permanent  teeth 
Harelip  and  cleft  palate 

Retention  of  testes  in  abdomen  (cryptorchidism) 
Absence  of  certain  teeth  (dental  agnesia) 
Bilobed  ear 
Dent  in  forehead 
Human  protein  sensitization 
Double  crown  of  scalp 
Stiffening  of  joints  (ankylosis) 
Degeneracy  of  the  cornea 

Constitutional  predisposition  to  certain  diseases,  such  as  cancer, 
pneumonia,  abdominal  hernia,  inguinal  hernia 



Stuttering  or  stammering 

Anemia  in  young  women  (chlorosis) 

Nosebleed  (epistaxis) 

Dilatation  of  capillaries  (telangiectasis) 

Splenic  anemia 



Exophthalmic  goitre  (Graves'  disease) 

Ability     (a)     literary,     (b)     mathematical,     (c)     mechanical, 

(d)  artistic,  (e)  intellectual 
Heart  defect 
Pernicious  anemia 
Hardening  of  arteries   (arteriosclerosis) 



Fissure  of  parts  of  eye  (coloboma) 

Atrophy  of  optic  nerve 

Near  sight  (myopia) 

Color  blindness  (Daltonism) 

Night  blindness 

Rolling  of  eyes  (nystagmus) 

Scaly  skin  (ichthyosis) 

Pattern  baldness 

Degeneration  of  nerve  tissue  (multiple  sclerosis) 

Grower's  muscular  atrophy  (dystrophia  muscularis  progressiva) 

Tendency  to  abnormal  bleeding  (hemophilia) 


Deficiency  in  sense  of  smell 

Sea-lust  (thalassophilia) 


Webbed  toes 

Abnormal  smallness  of  eyes  (microphthalmia) 




The  following  table  shows  what  many  of  our 
States  are  doing  in  regard  to  sterilization  in  their 
institutions.  It  shows  the  number  of  operations 
in  each  State  performed  up  to  January  i,  1921; 
between  then  and  January  i,  1928;  between  then 
and  January  i,  1932;  and  between  then  and  Janu- 
ary i,  1933.  The  first  column  shows  the  year  when 
the  law  was  passed  or  when  the  latest  amendment 
was  passed  to  the  existing  law.  A  dash  means  that 
in  this  year  there  was  no  law;  a  cipher  means  that 
there  was  a  law  but  that  no  operations  were  per- 
formed. The  table  does  not,  of  course,  show  the 
many  operations  performed  privately. 







Alabama    1923 

Arizona    1929 

California    1917 

Connecticut    1919 

Delaware 1929 

Idaho    1929 

Indiana*   1931 

Iowa   1929 

Kansas    ^9*7 

Maine 1931 

Michigan   1929 

Minnesota    1925 

Mississippi     1928 

Montana 1923 

Nebraska   1929 

New  Hampshire 1929 

New   York    


North  Carolina    ....  1929 

North  Dakota *927 

Oklahoma    1931 

Oregon   1925 

South  Dakota   1927 

Utah    1929 

Vermont   1931 

Virginia   1924 

Washington 1921 

West  Virginia 1929 

Wisconsin    1913 


Jan.  i, 

Jan.  I, 

















•  ' 



1  06 




























3,233   8,515 

Jan.  I, 

























Jan.  i, 



















12,145        16,056 

*  The  figures  given  for  Indiana  do  not  include  the  voluntary  sterili- 
zations of  several  hundred  males  between  1899  and  1909,  the  year 
when  Indiana  passed  its  first  law. 




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Mem.  Eugenics  Record  Office,  No.  I,  1912. 

Darwin,  C.  "The  Descent  of  Man"  and  "Selection  in  Relation 
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Darwin,  L.  "The  Need  of  Eugenic  Reform."  New  York, 
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"What  Is  Eugenics?"     New  York,  Galton,  1930. 

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and  Love,  A.  G.     "Defects  Found  in  Drafted  Men." 

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and  Weeks,  D.  F.     "First  Study  of  Inheritance  in  Epi- 
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Davies,  S.  "Social  Control  of  the  Mentally  Deficient." 
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Dayton,  N.  A.  "Mortality  in  Mental  Deficiency  Over  a 
Fourteen  Year  Period  in  Massachusetts:  Analysis  of  8,800 
Cases."  Thirty-Sixth  Proceedings  and  Addresses  of  the 



Fifty-fifth  Annual  Session  of  the  American  Association  for 

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"Mankind   at   the   Crossroads."      New   York,    Scribner, 


and  Jones,  D.  F.    "Inbreeding  and  Outbreeding."     Phil- 
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Ellis,  H.  "Study  of  British  Genius."  Boston,  Houghton 
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Encyclical  Casti  Connubii  of  Pope  Pius  XI:  "On  Christian 
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Estabrook,  A.  H.  "The  Jukes  in  1915."  Washington,  Car- 
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and  McDougle,  J.  E.     "Mongrel  Virginians."     Balti- 
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and  Davenport,  C.  B.    "The  Nam  Family.    A  Study  in 

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